I write to express my displeasure at the way mentally ill clients that are admitted to Kabwe General Hospital are being discriminated against. I am a paramedic with a military background working within Kabwe District.
The situation at the General Hospital’s Psychiatric section is bad. Mental illness is at various levels and affects all sectors of society. The priority of care is that if a mentally ill client comes to a health facility with a medical or surgical condition, e.g. a wound, fracture or malaria, that condition must be treated first, provided the mental illness is not interfering with such treatment. More over, all nurses, clinicians and doctors are trained in basic psychiatry so as to handle any life-threatening condition before referring to a psychiatric ward.
Basically what it means is that at Kabwe general Hospital, if you go there with a mental illness, they open a file for you and you are treated, the next time you go there with malaria, you will be sent to the Psychiatric ward. No body will be willing to attend to you at OPD (Out Patient Department).
Whilst i understand that Mental health practitioners are also trained in General Medicine and care, a frightening fact is that there is only one nurse at any given time to handle both male and female mentally ill patients at Kabwe General Hospital!
Allow me conclude by appealing to the Minister of Health to look into staffing levels at the Psychiatric unit at the general hospital because whatever time you go there you will only find one staff there and sometimes nobody with more than 15 Mentally ill patients. Let management at the hospital also ensure that mental illness is not stigmatized, because it appears even the men and women in white uniform taking care of these vulnerable people are also stigmatized as being “Mad”.
Author’s name withheld