Thandeka MoyoHealth Reporter
INGUTSHENI Psychiatric Central Hospital in Bulawayo has recorded an increase in in-patients and out patients per month, a development attributed to the prevailing socio-economic issues and abuse of drugs especially amongst teenagers.
This came out during a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care tour of the mental institution yesterday where officials said most drug abuse patients were people who once lived outside Zimbabwe.
According to statistics from Ingutsheni, health practitioners attend to an average of 2 000 patients monthly both from the in-patient and out patient departments.
Ingutsheni clinical director Dr Wellington Ranga said the increase could also be attributed to the fact that most communities in Zimbabwe were open about mental health issues.
“We have a bed capacity of 708 as a whole and from January, we have been recording an increase in our in patients and out patients monthly.
We were used to an average of 550 patients monthly but now we get to see more than 574 patients in our different departments,” said Dr Ranga.
“We cannot rule out that socio-economic issues are contributing to the increase but we are also aware that drug abuse especially among teenagers is a prevalent trend.
We have also noticed that most people who suffer mentally due to drug abuse are those who come into Zimbabwe from foreign countries”.
He said there was a need for families to openly discuss mental health issues so that people are comfortable with seeking health care services.
“We have recently had instances where family members brought in patients for the first time who have lived with mental diseases for years.
These developments are encouraging and it shows that as a country we are getting somewhere in terms of debunking myths and misconceptions around mental health,” said Dr Ranga.
He said the hospital was still in need of psychiatrists and other technical staff members to operate optimally.
The acting chairperson of the committee, who is also Chinhoyi MP, Dr Peter Mataruse, said he was happy with how the hospital was being run despite economic challenges.
“This hospital is very old and despite resources challenges, the staff here is working extra hard to sustain it and ensure members of the public have access to mental health,” said Dr Mataruse.
“We are also happy that this institution has managed to secure drugs and come up with contingency measures to ensure their patients have adequate food even during these tough economic times”. —@thamamoe