dr stamps at the world mental health day 03.11.10.jpgGovernment has been urged to increase access to mental health care by decentralising mental health services which are largely concentrated in a few specialised institutions.

This came out at a belated ceremony in Chitungwiza to mark Mental Health Day.

Dr Stanley Midzi, who delivered a speech on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr Luis Sambo, said although the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 in Kazakhstan and the Ouagadougou Declaration on Primary Health Care call for the promotion of equitable distribution of health workers, this is yet to be achieved in the area of mental health.

Special Advisor in the President’s Office, Dr Timothy Stamps who delivered the key-note address, said Zimbabwe has appropriate interventions to address mental health challenges.

People who have since been diagonised to be mentally unstable and those suffering from chronic illnesses gave heart rending testimonies.

Memory Chivizhe, who has been taking mental health medication for the past 21 years after a man who had paid lobola for her decided to dump her in the middle of wedding preparations, also gave a heart-rending testimony.

“I was diagnosed 21 years ago and I am happy that I am in a stable condition since I started taking the medication. During the first days, people used to laugh at me but I received a lot of encouragement from doctors,” said Chivizhe.

Another patient, identified as Mkosera said people should understand that such conditions are a reality and should learn to take good care of mentally unstable people.

Despite a lot of stigma associated with mental health, conditions of diagnosed people have shown that they can lead a normal lifestyle if they take effective treatment.

Chitungwiza Hospital Chief Executive, Dr Obedia Moyo, said plans to construct a separate psychaitric unit at the hospital are in the pipeline.

“We get a lot of mental patients, our doctors at the casualty observe them and if there is need for further treatment we refer them to Parirenyatwa or Harare hospital. Since we have been upgraded to a central hospital, we now plan to have our own psychiatric unit,” said Dr Moyo.

Mental Health Day is commemorated on the 10th of October every year globally but this year Zimbabwe marked the day on the 3rd of November.

The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘mental health and chronic physical illnesses, the need for integrated care’.

The theme was formulated after the realisation that most people who suffer from chronic illnesses like HIV and AIDS and cancer usually undergo a lot of stress and may end up suffering from depression which may lead to mental health problems.