Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
TWENTY six medical practitioners from the United Kingdom have arrived in Zimbabwe for an exchange programme with their local counterparts in what is set to boost the country’s mental health delivery system.
This comes at a time when the country has only 17 psychologists and only two of those operate from Bulawayo at Ingutsheni Central Hospital.
The medical exchange programme themed: ‘Exchange of Information,’ will focus mainly on mental health.
According to ZBCtv, the doctors are self-funded and will be working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care as they explore mental health issues in Zimbabwe.
“Our main port of call is mental health and we have come with specialists in that area,” said the programme coordinator, Ms Lucia Vambe.
“The initiative, which is the first of its kind in the country, is aimed at exchanging information between the two countries and will see the doctors touring Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare and Ingutsheni in Bulawayo.”
The programme, which will run for eight days, is set to be an annual event and will help in strengthening relations between the UK and Zimbabwe.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya recently said most mental patients were suffering in their homes with no chances of diagnosis due to a shortage of specialists.
“The last I checked we had two psychiatrists who are serving at Ingutsheni and other psychiatric institutions in the region. This means we have lots of patients who are suffering with no one to diagnose and it explains why we have an increase of suicide and gruesome murders,” said Dr Ngwenya.
He said the hospital, which caters for five provinces in the Western region, can only stabilise such patients before referring them to Ingutsheni Hospital.
“We need more trained personnel to help our people deal with depression and other issues. Our livelihoods have resulted in many people suffering from depression and it is the reason we have lots of suicide cases in our communities,” said Dr Ngwenya.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care launched mental health discharge guidelines last year in April that seeks to reduce the number of patients who relapse after being discharged due to lack of healthcare and support systems.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression, a prevalent mental condition is also the leading cause of disability in the world. — @thamamoe