FIVE people have died of malnutrition-related illnesses at Ingutsheni mental hospital in Bulawayo due to biting food shortages at the institution, it has been learnt.
The food situation has been worsened by a poor diet served to
patients as the institution cuts on food costs due to financial contraints, according to sources.
Sources within the institution noted that patients go for long hours without being given food while medication is said to be in short supply, forcing relatives of patients to bring their own supplies.
Deputy Health minister Edwin Muguti confirmed there were problems at the hospital due to budgetary constraints.
A source who refused to be named for professional reasons said: “Some of the patients come from other provinces and have no relatives in Bulawayo to attend to them, forcing nursing staff to buy some destitute patients vitamin supplements needed to combat the vitamin B6 deficient disease.”
Another said: “Many are suffering from pellagra lesions, which are wounds found in the areas of the body not usually covered by clothing.
“One patient who was admitted in Mzilikazi Ward 1 suffered from a severe type of pellagra and later had other infections before he died. Four others from the same ward suffered from pellegra and lost a lot of weight before they died this year.”
Sources at the institution noted that most patients had since last year suffered from pellegra before developing other complications that contributed to their death. Pellagra is a nutritional disease due to a vitamin B deficiency.
A visit by the Zimbabwe Independent to Ingutsheni revealed that most of the patients suffering from pellagra were being isolated from other patients to avoid the transmission of the disease.
Contacted for comment, Muguti said Ingutsheni was facing serious malnutrition problems.
“Ingutsheni has been facing problems and as you know it is looking after some of the poorest
and most mentally sick people in the country,” Muguti said. — Staff Writer.