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Civil society organizations (CSOs) have called for a review of the country’s health laws to ensure they protect people with mental health problems.

This emerged from a discussion organized by the Women Institute for Leadership Development (Wild), My Age Zimbabwe and the Red Cross held at the Bulawayo Club under the theme Abatsha Let’s Dialogue.

Ingutsheni Hospital’s provincial health and care coordinator Chipo Gandiwa said the country’s health laws were archaic as they were last revised two decades ago and no ‘were more in tune with the new disease burden affecting the country.

Gandiwa said mental health funding was insufficient to effectively address the issues plaguing the country.

“The Health Law was last revised in 1996 and some of its provisions are now obsolete. The Ministry of Health is headed by a deputy director, which shows that there is a problem. We only get 0.42% funding for mental health from the ministry, which is too little to cope with the challenges we have, ”Gandiwa said.

“This month we admitted 150 patients aged 12 to 35 to mental health facilities, most of them from tertiary facilities. It’s very difficult because we don’t have rehabilitation centers here. Referral of patients to private institutions does not work because it is very expensive. We are very concerned about this and we call on the government to work with the private sector and to establish rehabilitation centers that will be accessible to all, ”she said.

Gandiwa said they have partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to address some of the mental health issues.

“So far we have started to train our nurses and soon there will be a committee that will tour mental institutions to identify the most needed materials. Ingutsheni does not have rehabilitation centers, ”Gandiwa said.

My Age Zimbabwe executive director Onward Chironda said mental health issues were more dangerous than physical illnesses.

“A lot of people end up committing suicide because of mental illness. Due to the COVID-19 closures, many people have been affected by economic problems. Everyone works in the streets to survive.

“Almost 99.9% of the people in the country have a mental health problem. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, personality or origin. If you are a good mental being, you know how to manage and maneuver through the work around you.

Abangane Platforms director Zibusiso Munandi said there was a need for CSOs to engage communities on mental health issues.

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