Govt Blamed For Hindering Mental Patients' Treatment

Wednesday, 29 March 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE - Government bureaucracy is hindering effective treatment of mental health patients, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Head of Mission in Zimbabwe Abi Kebra Belay has said.

Belay said this at a joint Mental Health partnership statement meeting this week.

"Zimbabwe is facing mental health challenges which need to be addressed as soon as possible as they are increasing day by day.

"However, Zimbabwe has a lot of barriers and bureaucracy which are hindering our work here while the problems worsen even despite the system's failure to address them," said Belay.

Belay also revealed that 1.3 million people suffered from mental health in 2015 which Ministry of Health and Child Care deputy director mental health services, Sydney Makarawu said was as a result of unemployment, the current economic crisis and other traumatic

She said government was not the only one trivialising mental health care as other NGOs also treated it in a similar manner.

"We invited the whole range of NGOs dealing with health matters in Zimbabwe but only recorded a 10 percent attendance on their part.

"I believe they also should start seeing this as a very vital part of health as one cannot talk of being healthy without mental health," she added.

World Health Organisation (WHO) resident representative, David Okello lamented the absence of policy makers at the event as they were the people who could ensure that such issues were addressed.

"We need a symposium with policy makers as they have the power to ensure that our needs and issues can be attended.

"We have to accept that we have a crisis of mental health here in Zimbabwe and for it to be addressed we need policy makers," said Okello.

Makarawu who was standing in for the Minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa said that they were going to push for government to do more and better the operations of non-governmental organisations involved in treating and caring for mental health patients.

"I am disappointed by the realisation of how little we are doing for mental health patients and I promise that some efforts will be made to address these grievances," he said.

The event was meant to bring awareness to doctors and NGOs on the importance of mental health and coming up with a joint statement on the issue to be released on International Mental Health Day to be celebrated April 7.

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontiers, is an NGO involved in health related matters across the world.

They have been involved with the caring and rehabilitation of mental health patients and prisoners at mental health hospitals and prisons across the country.

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