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Mental, disability rights body petitions MoH

VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
THE Mental Users Network of Zambia and Disability Rights Watch have petitioned the Minister of Health (MoH) Joseph Kasonde for failure to have the Mental Health Bill tabled in Parliament.
Executive director Sylvester Katontonka in a letter to Dr Kasonde demands urgent answers on why issues concerning mental health are not allegedly a priority to Government.
“Does Government recognise the effect and impact of mental health problems on families, communities and the nation,” Mr Katontonka said.
He said the non presentation of the bill to Parliament indicates that Government is happy and comfortable with the dehumanising provisions of the Mental Disorder Act of 1949.
Mr Katontonka questioned whether Government is indirectly asking the organisation to seek judicial intervention to declare the Act of 1949 null and void for its non-compliance with the provisions of the laws of Zambia.
He called on the minister to immediately take steps to ensure that the bill is passed by the current sitting of Parliament.
“You provide a comprehensive statement on how you treat issues of mental health in relation to the reasons stated in the letter,” he said.
Mr Katontonka registered the organisation’s concern on the non-presentation of the Mental Health Bill of 2016 to Parliament despite the completion of the drafting process.
He said the bill is intended to repeal the Mental Disorders Act of 1949 and the organisation has received the news with shock and this raises desperation.
Mr Katontonka said the Act of 1949 continues to portray persons with mental impairments as idiots, imbeciles and less humans.
“The Act has perpetuated gross abrogation of the rights and


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