Ngomahuru Hospital in Masvingo which looks after mentally ill patients is faced with an acute shortage of psychiatric nurses, a situation which affects efficient service delivery.

The hospital is also faced with critical food shortages and has sent a SOS for help. Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Ezra Chadzamira visited the institution to appreciate their challenges.

Ngomahuru at any given time has over 160 patients, with some having become permanent residents given that they have nowhere to go as their relatives are either not known or not willing to take them into their custody due to the stigma associated with mental illness.

The hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr Parirenyatwa Maramba said they are currently faced with a critical shortage of psychiatric nurses, highlighting that while they have general nurses for better service delivery they need more psychiatric trained nurses as they are in a better position to handle the mentally ill patients.

“We have just a few psychiatric nurses, we need about 15 more. When we are dealing with the patients we need to have specially trained. The food situation here is also dire, patients sometimes have to consume porridge without sugar and a constant diet of Sadza and vegetables day and night,” he said.

The hospital leadership also told Minister Chadzamira that some traditional leaders are illegally parcelling out land that belongs to the hospital to members of the community. Masvingo District Administrator, Mr Roy Hove assured them that the issue will be looked into as a matter of urgency.

Minister Chadzamira said the government is committed to assist the hospital to address some of the challenges relayed to him.

In terms of food provision for the patients, Cde Chadzamira posited that it will be key for the institution to be capacitated to irrigate crops to ensure self-sustenance.

The hospital officials revealed that due to the unbalanced diet, some of the patients end up succumbing to pelagra, a disease caused by malnutrition.