OUR country’s Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) has not minced words in its statement: “Accelerating development efforts towards Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind.”
For this reason, one of the strategic areas of the 7NDP is enhancing human development. Under this strategy is development outcome number one: Improved health and health-related services.
Based on the foregoing, I wish to urge the hard-working Minister of Health, Chitalu Chilufya, to take a bill to Parliament proposing that all district hospitals should have mental annexes.
As at now, Zambia only has one psychiatric hospital (Chainama Hospital) based in Lusaka and similar facilities located at provincial hospitals, namely Chipata, Kabwe, Kasama, Livingstone, Mansa and Mongu.
No district hospital has a psychiatric annex and mental patients have to be referred to the said provincial facilities or just left loitering in townships and villages literally uncared for.
Our country being a Christian nation, it is very important that human rights, including the rights of psychiatric patients, are taken care of.
One obvious way for the Government to take care of and provide for these people is to build mental annexes at district hospitals.
And in order to create a human resource base to cater for increased mental facilities, colleges and schools of medicine at universities in our country should include diplomas and degrees in mental health care.
Policy makers, please heed this long-overdue advice.