Chipata Central Hospital is reportedly admitting an average of 28 mental health patients , per month. Out of these cases , schizophrenia which is associated with disillusions is the most common mental illness among patients.
Schizophrenia is associated with hallucinations, alcohol and substance abuse induced, HIV/AIDS induced, psychosis and bipolar mood disorders.
Eastern Province Clinical Care Specialist, Francis Mubanga, in an interview said the region had generally been recording an increase in mental health cases, some of which were managed in communities.
ZANIS reports that Dr Mubanga said in an interview today that his facility had recorded an increase of mental illness from nine cases in April, 2023 to 31, by presstime.
“In April this year, Chipata Central Hospital recorded nine cases, then rose to 31 cases in months that followed,” he listed.
“We do home visits for management of some cases but in instances where we decline, that is when we see fluctuating cases at facility level,” he said.
Other factors leading to the increase in mental health cases included availability and abuse of drugs on the market, myths and misconceptions, among others.
Dr Mubanga identified one of the myths as abusing drugs by HIV positive people with the hope of lowering CD4 count.
“What is disheartening about drug abuse is that apart from the famous marijuana, we now even have drugs like cocaine and heroin on the market. This situation is quite worrisome because drug abuse is becoming a serious vice amongst young people,” he explained.
Meanwhile, old aged mental patients have been listed as victims of abuse and discrimination.
This is as a result of myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health issues that were sometimes linked to witchcraft. Dr Mubanga identified Alzheimer’s disease, which destroyed memory and other important mental functions, as one such illness.
“There are various myths around mental health especially relating to the elderly, who could be suffering from epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease or any other conditions but such patients may be perceived as witches because of some change in their behaviour,” he elaborated.
He further appealed to members of the community to help identify people who might be having mental health challenges so that they were taken to the nearest facility for professional help.
According to the World Health Organisation’s recent document entitled Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation guidance and practice, Article 19 of the CRPD recognizes the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community.
“ This involves a person exercising freedom of choice and control over the decisions affecting their life, with the maximum level of self-determination and independence within society, “ reads the publication in part.
Accordingly, persons with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities must have the opportunity to choose how, where, and with whom to live, on an equal basis with others, without being obliged to live in a particular living arrangement, such as an institutional setting.
Furthermore, they must also have access to a range of community support services, including individualized disability-specific support and mainstream services and facilities for the general population in the community.