Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has appealed to the public to avoid stigma and discrimination against people with mental health issues, saying people with mental health illnesses should be a accorded all respect, care and deserving attention on human rights perspective.
The minister made the call on Tuesday at Zomba Mental Hospital when the facility was commemorating World Mental Health Day under the theme ‘Mental Health is Universal Human Right.
Apart from the commemoration, Zomba Mental Hospital also celebrated 70 years of existence in providing mental health services.
The minister observed that some people still stigmatise and discriminate against people with mental health issues such that some parents and guardians confine children indoors.
She said Zomba Mental Hospital has capacity to treat people with mental health issues and assured the nation that the facility has enough drug stock for effective treatment.
She therefore called on people in the country to take those with mental health issues to Zomba Mental Hospital other than confining them in their homes or seeking other non-psychatric attention.
Zomba Mental Hospital is the only public mental health facility and the minister said government has plans to build other mental hospitals in the central and northern regions of the country to serve the citizens better.
“Let me appeal to the media to raise public awareness on how stigma and discrimination negatively impacts on mental health. Most people suffer from depression and choose to commit suicide due to society’s perception on mental health,” Chiponda added.
Zomba Mental Hospital Director, Dr. Raphael Piringu commended the government for procuring an ambulance to serve the facility and further appealed to the government to construct staff houses at the hospital for staff convinience.
Dr. Piringu also asked the government to employ many nurses and additional hospital personnel for effective provision of mental health services.
A representative of World Health Organisation, Dr. Neema Rusubamayila Kimambo said WHO was thinking of increasing financial support towards management of mental health as part of Tropical Cyclone Freddy response considering that the devastation left some people psychologically traumatised.
Dr. Kimambo further explained that the WHO will work with government to assess magnitude of mental health in the country in relation to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy so that the WHO should see areas that need support.
Some of the notable figures that attended the World Mental Day commemoration and the golden jubilee included; former Mental Hospital Administrator, Dr. Emmaculate Chamangwana, Secretary for Health, Dr. Samson Mndolo, Zomba District Commissioner, Reignhard Chavula, Musician Charles Sineta, Senior Chief Mlumbe and Zomba City Mayor, Ciuncilor, Davie Maunde.