Ingutsheni Hospital overcrowded, authorities reveal

By Promise Dube

Ingutsheni Hospital in Bulawayo is overcrowded with some wards carrying double the holding capacity, authorities have revealed.

Speaking during the World Mental Health Day commemorations held at the hospital on Tuesday, under the theme “Mental Health is Universal Human Right”, Ingutsheni’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Nemache Mawere said the hospital is overcrowded.

“We have challenges of inadequate food to feed the ever-growing population of patients who are continuously brought to us from all over the country. As we speak, our Khumalo ward has got 180 patients beyond its carrying capacity of 98 patients. This speaks to issues of overcrowding. The patients are not easily discharged,” said Dr Mawere.

Dr Mawere said there was a need to promote community care as a way of decongesting mental health institutions.

“Our biggest challenge in terms of care has to do with community care, which I think we should be advocating for. Is to have people looked after more in the community and less in the hospital. Unfortunately, people still think that it is best to bring people to the central hospital, but I am proposing that we look after our people out there in the community.

So that is what we should be driving towards, establishing community care, making sure these people get appropriate treatment and making sure they get their reviews because sometimes people are not coming back for reviews, they are not coming back to collect their medication and then they relapse and we end up having a problem of overcrowding,” he said.

Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Maphios Siamuchembu called on communities to treat those with mental health challenges with dignity.

“I think it is important for us to commemorate this day because none of us is immune to mental health issues, living in Zimbabwe we go through economic turmoil,” said Dr Siamuchembu.

“We need to treat those that are incapacitated by mental health issues as human beings first before anything else, we need to treat them with respect, with dignity and we need to involve them in their treatment decisions.”

Mental health activist Sifundo Ngwenya said more needs to be done to support health institutions like Ingutsheni.

“Today being the 10th of October it’s a World Mental Health Day where we focus on issues that are really pertinent in making sure that we support institutions and, families, as activists we encourage people to make sure that they do all that can support institutions especially Ingutsheni,” said Ngwenya.

“Let us not dump our relatives at these institutions because we are really laboring the people who are managing the institutions to have a tough time sustaining these people because of economic issues.”

The event was attended by different organisations and students from various schools in Bulawayo.

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