Mental Health Cases Surge in Zim

More than 1,3 million people countrywide suffer from mental disorders and there is a serious shortage of mental health facilities to cater for them due to lack of funding, a medical report has revealed.The report by mental health care partners in Zimbabwe showed that there was lack of funding for mental health care from both national and international sources, resulting in shortage of drugs

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), together with its partners, on Monday held a stakeholder engagement in Harare to deliberate on the report.

The report revealed that there were insufficient numbers of mental health staff and lack of trained human resources to meet the needs of the country’s population.

Clinical director of Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo Dr Wellington Ranga revealed that they were dealing with a high number of psychiatric patients.

“We have an average daily in-patient population of 600 patients and a monthly out-patient population of 1 400,” he said.

 Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital in Masvingo has about 300 patients, with 80 percent of them staying at the centre.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Principal Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care responsible for curative services, Dr Sydney Makarawo, said mental health problems brought many complications.

 “Beyond the suffering and the absence of care lies the frontiers of stigma, shame, exclusion, and more often than we care to know, death,” he said.

Dr Makarawo said the ministry was concerned about people’s mental health and was taking several actions to address the problem.

“My ministry acknowledges the important role mental health plays in our daily lives and as such, the ministry strives to ensure provision of equitable and quality mental health services in the country,” he said.

“The ministry, in consultation with other stakeholders, has managed to put mental health policy, mental health strategy (2014-2018), treatment protocols and guidelines for common mental disorders, mental health discharge plan guidelines, which awaits launching later and the final draft of the alcohol policy which awaits approval.”

Drug and alcohol abuse were cited as key attributes of mental disorders.

A report released by the police in 2014 showed that Harare had the highest number of drug abusers.

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