Harare Hospital Records Increase In Drug Abuse Related Admissions In Female Psychiatric Unit

HARARE Psychiatric Hospital stationed at Sally  Mugabe Central Hospital during the first quarter had 319 patients attended seeking treatment for substance use.

By Kuda Pembere

While  majority were males, statistics indicate that the number of females who are getting admitted in the facility was also on the rise.

In an Interview with HealthTimes, the Psychiatric Hospital’s Senior Nursing Officer Mr Nelson Makore said following the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions after the second wave, they started witnessing a surge in patients coming in.

“I was looking at some figures, from January to April 2021 at our outpatient department. January alone we had 75 patients abusing drugs and substances,” said Mr Makore.

“Out of these 75, 72 are males and three are females. February we saw 72, 71 were males and one was a female. In March we saw 82. Out of 82, 81 were males, and one was a female. April its 90. You can see our numbers are increasing. And we are talking these numbers amidst the COVID-19 lockdown,” he said. “So of the 90, 66 were males, 24 females. Also the number of females is rising. We have some females that are currently here.”

He said there during this period, a total of 63 were admitted.

“Out of 63, 37 were abusing substances which would give us 58 percent just for the first quarter of 2021. Looking at a space that this is a COVID-19 era where we are limiting the number of people visiting the hospital, if it wasn’t for that the number would be bigger,” Mr Makore said.

Mr Makore said that in 2020, they had 74 admissions.

“First quarter of 2020, substance induced admissions were 32. Second quarter there were 13. Third quarter two. These were admissions only. When we see them, others may be treated and go home and asked to periodically come for review. But those who will be very bad will be admitted. So I am just talking about those admitted. Otherwise for the first, second, third and fourth quarter we saw 79. These numbers are low due to the problems we highlighted earlier,” he said.

Added Mr Makore, “You will find that there are people who come in with other diagnoses other than substance abuse disorder. They might have schizophrenia, depression and bipolar effective disorder and are vulnerable to substance abuse. This will be a dual diagnosis. Gender wise, its more of males than females. Female numbers are on the increase.”

Harare Psychiatric Hospital Matron Enety Mahove stated that the age groups they are seeing go back to primary school levels.

“The grade sixes and sevens. Right now the female we have was in Form 4. We also attend quite a number from our universities. There was a time when we proposed resources-permitting that we visit the universities and raise awareness but the issue of lack of resources prohibits us. Age wise, we can say starting at 12 up to 49,” she said.

Matron Mahove added that many of their clients range between the ages of 17 and 25.

“At ages between 17 and 25 we see many of those. That is where most our work and burden is. The Covid 19 lockdown reduced the number of clients or patients visiting hospitals. At the same time it increased the number of patients home. Idleness led to people abusing these substances,” she said.

Dr Evelyn Makanza-Mazike said, “So what we would want to encourage our youth because people usually start by experimenting maybe they have seen it taken in families, if you can please keep away.”

She explained that most of them when they carry on drinking, its because they have a stressor that they are not opening up to somebody.

“They drink it so sort of self medicate as they call it. They want to forget their worries and drown their sorrows. Talk to someone. That talk therapy is very important. Its very important because once you get into this, it gets deeper and deeper until it is difficult to come out,” she said.

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