Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has moved to address gaps in the treatment of mental health in the country through the provision of training to 21 medical doctors and 200 nurses, 263Chat can reveal.
MSF Head of Mission Abi Kebra Belaye, noted that the provision of training to medical staff was necessitated by the need to enable them to respond to mental ill health without waiting for psychiatrists who are in short supply in the country.
“We decided to establish a model where nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe can treat mental health without waiting for psychiatrist to attend to the problems,
“Zimbabwe only has 40 psychiatrists and they cannot offer service to about 14 million people,
“Therefore 200 nurses and 21 doctors have been trained for this Community Mental Health Initiative,” said Belaye.
She added that the mental health community is facing financial problems as the donor community is focusing on Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS while other ailments like mental health struggle against limited resources.
“Donor community only funds TB, HIV and malaria programs, mental health is literally a forgotten issue, body cannot function without the head; therefore we are appealing to donor community to spare some funds towards mental health,” said Belaye.
Meanwhile Deputy Director of Mental Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dorcas Sithole has urged the media to create awareness on mental illness.
“Mental illness is just like any other illness for example diabetes and should be treated the same way. The stigma in the communities in now too much, as people associate mental illness with evil spirits and witchcraft,
“Traditional and faith healers should encourage their patients to take their mental illness drugs. We do not refute seeking help from traditional healers but they should play their role of counseling and we play ours of medication,” said Sithole.
World Mental Health Day in conjunction with Word Suicide Prevention Day will be held on the 10th of October at Lafarge in Mabvuku, Harare.