Mental illness cases rise – medics

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The number of people with psychiatric disorders in Busoga sub-region has increased, a senior medic has disclosed.
In an interview with the Daily Monitor last week, the senior nursing officer at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital (mental department), Ms Edith Alitwala, said: “We used to receive between 20 and 30 out-patients daily. This number has since increased to not less than 40 cases per day. The number of those being admitted (in-patient) has also gone up from 10 to nearly 20 cases daily.”

She attributed the rise to HIV/Aids as well as alcohol and drug abuse. “Half of the mentally ill patients are victims of HIV/Aids and the biggest challenge is that by the time they seek treatment, there are already experiencing mental disorders, making treatment difficult,” Ms Alitwala said.

Currently, the hospital has not only run out of the necessary drugs, but is also struggling to acquire food and clothes for the increasing number of patients. This means that the patients have to pay for their medication, which many cannot afford. Those without caretakers will either have to starve or rely on good Samaritans for both food and clothing.

In an interview, Ms Susan Mudondo, who has been nursing a mentally ill patient for three weeks, said she requires Shs30, 000 per week for drugs but it will not be long before she runs out of money to sustain the basic doses.

The mental health department of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital was established in 2010 following a decision by the Ministry of Health to establish mental healthcare at all regional hospitals as a way of reducing overcrowding at Butabika Referral Hospital. The facility serves Busoga sub-region but also receives patients from Busia, Mukono, Buikwe, Buvuma and Kayunga.

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