Thursday, December 23, 2010

People with mental illnesses in Uganda say they suffer abuse of their rights

From New Vision in Uganda:

Patients with mental illnesses have expressed concern over what they called gross abuse of their rights by members of the public.

Through their representative, Rose Nampijja, the patients said they were subjected to all kinds of abuse including, physical assault and rape.

Nampijja, a resident of Bugembe Town Council in Jinja district was cured of mental illness after getting treatment from psychiatrists.

“There are things we do as patients and we do not understand them due mental problems,” she said adding that the public should not mistreat them.

Nampijja was speaking during the launch of the mental health awareness campaign in Busoga region in Bugembe, Jinja district on Tuesday.

She noted that the Government needs to put in place regulations to protect the mentally ill.

During the function, presided over by area Member of Parliament and Government Chief Whip Daudi Migereko, a sh5m ward for mental health patients was commissioned at Bugembe Health Centre.

The building, an initiative of Atenekontola Uganda Schizophrenia Fellowship, Jinja branch, was constructed with funding from Dara Carroll, a well-wisher from the United States of America, the Holy Cross Catholic Congregation and association members.

The coordinator of the association, Emmanuel Mufumba, said it was founded in 1998 by parents of patients to create awareness and give them support.

Mufumba, who revealed that the centre had recorded an increase in the number of patients from 180 in October this year to 244 in November asked the Government and development partners to avail more psychiatric drugs.

“Mental health deserves to be given more attention, as is the case with HIV/AIDS. The patients need constant treatment, but we are always faced with shortage of medicines. We request government to emphasise the issue in their budgets,” he said.

Mufumba, who is a psychiatric clinical officer in charge of Butembe county cited some of the major causes of mental illness as alcohol and drug abuse, injuries due to accidents, infection, diseases, and psychosocial problems like wars that cause trauma and depression.

“It is estimated that 20% of the population of Jinja district may have mental problems. Between 20%-40% of outpatients at Jinja regional Referral Hospital are found to suffer from anxiety,” he revealed.