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No Psychiatric Unit Yet for Mutare, Targeted Center Crumbling

A patient suffering from HIV is taken to a local hospital in Harare, January 31, 2012.
Sakubva District Hospital’s desire to have a psychiatric unit soon have been dashed as Health and Childcare Minister David Parirenyatwa has condemned a building that had been earmarked for the unit.

Hospital officials pleaded with the minister to ensure there is a psychiatric unit in the region to house the increasing number of mentally challenged patients in Manicaland province.

Dr. Parirenyatwa, who was the guest of honour at the belated World Mental Health Day commemorations in Mutare told the gathering that the local hospital is not ready to accommodate the psychiatric unit as the targeted building is crumbling.

His remarks came at a time when the hospital matron, Sheila Chimbetete, and Provincial Administrator, Fungai Mbetsa, asked the government to quickly open the unit due to an increasing number of mentally challenged patients.

Chimbetete told the visiting minister, who was accompanied by Presidential Health Advisor, Dr. Timothy stamps, that there is an urgent need to have a psychiatric unit in the province as all cases of mental health care are being referred to Harare.

Mbetsa echoed the same sentiments, adding that the number of people with mental health issues is increasing.

Dr. Parirenyatwa said the facilities at the hospital are currently not conducive for such a unit, noting that his ministry is going to look for an alternative facility to host the mental health centre.

According to officials at Sakubva District Hospital, additional staff trained in mental health and psychiatric services are required in line with the envisaged unit to be set up in the near future.

The condemned building has a falling ceiling and cracked walls in addition to broken windows. The facelift required at the building, according to doctor stamps, needs it to be preserved as a monument since the Rhodesian government set it up before independence as exclusively for black patients.