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Red Cross reaches out to mental patients

By Style Reporter

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) ambassador Alick Macheso says people with mental health conditions are stigmatised and discriminated left, right and centre, hence their failure to live a complete and satisfying life.

Macheso made these remarks when he donated food and clothes on behalf of Red Cross to psychiatric patients at Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital in Masvingo. He said the lives of people living with mental illness were plagued by stigma and discrimination.

“I realised that as society we tend to shun people with mental disorders. Even close family members would not want to be associated with someone with mental disorder,” Macheso said.

“I came here sometime last year and discovered that this hospital was facing a lot of challenges, some emanating from the fact that society shuns people with mental disorders.

“We went back and mobilised some of these things that we brought here and there are people out there who are willing to help. I know I owe you a radio which I promised you and that pledge still stands. I will bring it.”

Macheso was the star attraction when the ZRCS team toured the institution with some psychiatric patients, including one who was in solitary confinement, recognising the singer and singing some of his songs.

“I know you are Macheso, I know you,” said the confined patient, before bursting into singing one of Macheso’s hits Vapupuri Pupurai.

Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital matron Thomas Hwami Mahwehwe said the institution was facing a plethora of challenges.

“The biggest challenge we have here is food. We largely rely on government handouts, but as you know the environment is not that conducive, we sometimes have to do it our own way,” Hwami Mahwehwe said.

He said apart from food, the hospital’s infrastructure was obsolete, with qualified personnel shunning the institution due to lack of electricity at some staff cottages.

ZRCS provincial manager for Masvingo Fungai Maregedze said the organisation was augmenting government efforts in alleviating human suffering.

“As Red Cross, we are a humanitarian arm of government and we are here to support government efforts,” she said.

Ngomahuru is one of the four psychiatric hospitals in the country and others include Harare Central Psychiatric Hospital, Parirenyatwa Annexe and Ingutsheni Psychiatric Hospital. The government said it is now moving towards the provision of mental health services in clinics closer to the communities where people stay in order to make mental health services accessible to many.

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