MSF Refurbishes Harare Central Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) handed over an upgraded state of the art Harare Central Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit. Time taken to complete the Harare Psychiatric Project was two years.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

This shot in the arm comes at the nick of time when the Harare Psychiatric Hospital was in a deplorable state which demotivated staff.

The renovated unit which had a nominal carrying capacity of about 50 patients was expanded to accommodate over 100 of them.was silent about the mentally disturbed patients

Speaking at the handover ceremony, MSF Head of Mission for Zimbabwe Mrs Abi Kebra Belaye upon seeing how the donor community is silent on assisting the metally ill, they were compelled to chip in.

“We saw people with mental illness and their families suffering in silence. We observed that the donor community has seemingly forgetten this suffering. Although many might now consider mental illness as an emergency, we have and we responded,” she said.

She said they were driven into doing so through noticing how most specialized institutions that cater for people with mental illness are not fully functioning due to lack of maintenance and support.

Mrs Belaye also said they observed that drugs to treat mentally ill people are in short supply at all levels with constant stockouts of basic psychotropic drugs.

She added that the care for mentally ill people has become limited especially in the rural areas where people living with the condition could potentially receive affordable and effective community based care.

MSF also took heed of the unavailability of specialists that are needed to provide treatment, care to the mentally ill people such as psychiatrists, pyschologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, mental health nurses, social workers.

Responding to these observations MSF, according to HCH Head of Psychiatry Division Dr Munyaradzi Madhorimbo, worked tirelessly to see these gaps filled so that mentally ill patients can receive quality affordable treatment at the reconditioned unit.

Reading the Minister of Health’s speech on his behalf, Director of Pharmacy Services in the ministry Ropafadzai Hove said there was need to add more psychiatrists to the existing four employed by HCH.

“The hospital currently has a compliment of four psychiatrists and these are all university lecturers. There is this urgent need to employ more psychiatrists in order to provide a service that is beyond reproach.

MSF also drilled two boreholes for the unit and initiated a community based psychiatric services in conjunction with 12 Harare City Polyclinics.

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