1,3 million Zimbabweans mentally-ill: Govt

HARARE - Health minister David Parirenyatwa has said economic hardships coupled with drug abuse has significantly contributed to the increase in Zimbabweans suffering from mental disorders.

An estimated 1, 3 million Zimbabweans have some form of mental illness, according to government data.

Speaking during the launch of the Zimbabwe mental health strategic plan for 2014-2018 today, Parirenyatwa said it is unfortunate that the illness is still not given the attention it deserves despite its growth.

“Sometimes we do not understand why some people go into some tempers unexpectedly," he said. "The harsh economic situation, zvikwereti unenge uchitotadza kudaira phone, people asking for money after money that you can’t pay.

“The post traumatic disorders, a lot of our soldiers were not counselled post-war and we just assume it’s over but in reality we still have a lot of problems. Another major problem is drug abuse; we need to deal with the issue of illicit drugs.”

Ministry statistics show that there are 91 390 mentally-ill patients in Zimbabwe.

“7 763 new mentally ill patients were seen in our hospitals from January to October 2014… The problem has been increasing in Africa and Zimbabwe has not been spared,” said the minister.

“We haven’t as a ministry managed to put much emphasis on the condition but we now seek to do that through the plan.”

The four-year strategic plan seeks, among other things, to guide the implementation of the Mental Health Policy of 2004 by harmonising activities, improving drug provision, training more professionals and rehabilitation of infrastructure to improve the quality of life for those living with the condition.

Notwithstanding the stigma and marginalisation of such patients in Zimbabwe’s communities, support and scope of services remain limited owing to serious funding challenges that have left institutions operating with skeletal staff.

The country has two dedicated mental hospitals, Ingutsheni in Bulawayo and Ngomahuru in Masvingo, while other major referrals have units for such patients.

“At Ingutsheni there is one instead of eight psychiatrists and Ngomahuru there is none but they need five. About 20 are needed at both Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospital but they have around 10,” Parirenyatwa said, further appealing to implementers of the plan to engage traditional leaders in the policy implementation.

"We have to deal with the root causes of such illnesses but how are we going to do that with the economic hardships?” queried the minister.

David Okello, World Health Organisation representative, said the organisation has noted with concern the relegation of mental health, prevention and substance control to mediocre subjects.

“I also feel there is need to train a lot more other support professionals and I’m appealing for the expansion of staff retention allowances to psychiatric services,” he said.

Paula Morgan, Centre for Disease Control deputy director, said, “The plan will promote the rights of such people, fight stigma and help the integration of services in Primary Health care and HIV services.”

Comments (23)

This 1.3 million surely includes the 1.1 million that VOTES for Mugabe .?

Chingongingo - 28 January 2015

Mental illness is one thing that was grossly ignored after the liberation war. Any war ends with lots of trauma patients and there is need to address that. At the moment, our economic situation in the country causes so much stress we need much use of that profession called psychology and psychiatry. And some of our leaders from the liberation war needs a lot of that treatment.

Chenjerai Hove - 28 January 2015

Chokwadi munhu angatadza kupenga ne stress iko kusina mabasa? vana vodyei, mvura magetsi etc... regai vanhu vapenge chokwadi

batanai - 28 January 2015

And how many were caused by the poltical violence and displacements inflicted by the government that David Parirenyatwa belongs to?

tony reeler - 28 January 2015

And how many were caused by the poltical violence and displacements inflicted by the government that David Parirenyatwa belongs to?

tony reeler - 28 January 2015

This is the saddest news I have read in January. As usual marginalized people are falling through the cracks. We need to treat this as a case of emergency and ensure that we develop personnel that have skills to deal with the different needs and levels of mental health. There is more to the break down in mental health than war veterans. The country is overwhelmed with undue poverty, HIV, drug addiction and violence; all which need to be addressed under the umbrella of mental health. Hopefully this strategy that is being highlighted above will take into consideration training more front-line Mental Health Outreach workers, allied staff and not just Doctors. No strategy can be implemented without adequate funding. We need a tangible budget to set up more institutions that can play a bigger role than the existing centres. A holistic approach is definitely called for.

Mazvi - 28 January 2015

One major problem is that in our African society there is no classification of mental illness. Depression, bi polar, schizophrenia, hallucinations, acute stress, amnesia, substance dependence, dyslexia, down syndrome, insomnia, kleptomania, moods etc. there are more than 100 types of mental illnesses but in my shona culture or rather in Africa to sum it all up "KUPENGA" They are all prescribed one drug for different issues (diazepam). Families waste time going to witch doctors & false prophets because they still believe munhu akaroiwa... Just saying, change the patriarchal view to mental disorders then you can move from there. Not everyone deserves to be institutionalized, some just require counseling, some need rest and all that.

Tinotenda - 29 January 2015

Ok, so for every 14 people i come across one of them is mentally disturbed? With such staggering and disturbing statistics, is it not time for ZANU PF to come to its senses and allow leadership change? Unless of course the leadership is also mentally distrubed.

taps - 29 January 2015

This story is suspect - who diagnoses mental disorders in Zimbabwe? Firstly, if the stats office compiled this story if is pure fiction – they cannot even do the CPI figures correctly. Secondly, the Health Ministry is a total shambles. They cannot even diagnose a flea bite. Ingutsheni is already overflowing with Zanu pf loonies, with many more cdes waiting for admission. What is more likely is that 96% of Zimbabweans are mentally diseased. This from being a patriotic ass-licking comrade, or from the incessant mental pollution that occurs from the brain-washing by the criminal leaders in the country.

Sloth Observer - 29 January 2015

Mental health needs system wide approach, and not the current approach that is skewed towards, psychiatry, because psychiatry can only confine people to medication mostly. We need strategies among which are psychotherapies that will help the people to be reintegrated back into their families, communities, workplaces and society.I understand medicine and psychiatry owe their success to psychology, yet psychology is down played. Be it nursing, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, name any medical discipline, it thrives on how people think and behave, which is the purview of psychology.

jbs - 29 January 2015

topenga tose including you parirenyatwa

The Atomic - 29 January 2015

most are those zanoids wgo were busy murdering others during election periods! Ngozi!

Donato - 29 January 2015

tangova nyika yemapenzi, tichitungamirirwa nemapenzi, nemungamiriri wenyika benzi, ane mukadzi mupengo chaiye...zvese zvangovava zvekungopenga...isu tose tichingova vapengi! tichirarama mukupenga...zuva nezuva tichiti ticaita nani...asi kupenga kuchitowedzera! so sad!

Donato - 29 January 2015

mugabe is one of the mentally ill patients being made to run zimbabwe

matoto emheni - 29 January 2015

Thanks for covering this disturbing story. It either explains or is explained by the state of the economy.

Kunda Kinde - 29 January 2015

this is very true, Amai stop it, is a good testimony. vanhu vave kupenga pa Zim. If official date says 1,3m trust me on the ground it will be 3m or more. Zanu inotsikirira statistics

honour - 29 January 2015

My understanding/knowledge is that everyone is mentally ill(disabled) only that the degree differs.However ZANU PF is the major contributory factor(99.99%)

hoto - 29 January 2015

For the first I believe statistics and facts coming from a Zanu Pf Minister. The stress many resident Zimbabweans are going through right now possibly far outweighs the war trauma. Most Zimbabweans right now are in need of psychological therapy because of the economic quagmire. Becasue of the economic downturn, you end up being paranoid and think that so and so is bewitching you. you end up thinking "am I not doing well because I did not pay my debt obligation to so and so". Unenge wakufunga kuti ndave ne munyama because I have failed to me my debt obligations to so and and so. We have been put through a torrid, macabre nightmare by Grace Goreraza-Marufu-Mugabe and Robert Mugabe himself. Amuya vangu was a domestic worker in the Smith era and she was able to buy a 9 roomed house in Highfield. Many Graduates in this day and age cannot even afford rental payments. There is a lot of unemeployment and many graduates and other qualified artisans end up thinking asi Nzinza redu rakamarkwa. The ineptitide and recalcitrance of the current leadership is evil and a crime against humanity.

Tawa - 29 January 2015

This is quiet disturbing lets look at the root of the problem, political and economic turmoil because of the geriatrics in politiburo now turning against each other ( take them all to Ngutsheni).

Mzt - 29 January 2015

Now i know its all from Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe . Ndo wanopenga wanoramba vachivhotera Zanu. Mapenzi anovhotera mapenzi

IT -GURU - 30 January 2015

According to gender vakawanda varikupenga ndevapi men or women?

pp - 31 January 2015

This article is an eye opener to psychosocial problems in our Country. Surely there is need for urgent intervention.

G Sande - 31 July 2015

well l agree that there are a lot of concerns and a lot of shortcomings from the government and medical community. l just have to ask david what use has been this four year plan? this is April 2017 and we are still experiencing the same problems. before giving out data and speaking in public to an educated audience you surely expected this day to come. l have been to Bulawayo, annex, masvingo and l have to say the level of arrogance you show makes me think you don't even visit these places at. you don't even care to address the most important issues because you are dishing out abstract information prepared by someone else. the ministry is too busy blocking help from citizens like me whilst filin departments wth dead weight especially the epidemiology department. what are you doing!

termaine chizikani - 12 April 2017

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