Mentally challenged offenders not meant for prison

Staff Reporter

In a statement presented at the recently held Mental  Health Partnership statement meeting in Harare, the Zimbabwe Association of Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of Offenders (ZACRO) has called on government to come up with better ways of dealing with mentally challenged offenders as prisons were not built to take care and rehabilitate them.

“Our prisons were never designed to support Detained Mental Patients (DMPs).

“They have never had the capacity to do so and still face acute shortage of mental health treatment resources meaning there are limited efforts which ensure that DMPs are effectively treated,” read the statement.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) representative, Emmerson Gono highlighted that over 3,000 detained mental patients were at Chikurubi Prison.

“As an organisation we have been involved at Chikurubi Prison where we have treated some 3,000 detained mental patients.

“The conditions there are not suitable to ensure the rehabilitation of these patients as the conditions are strenous.

“There are food and drug shortages which hinder effective care of these patients,” said Gono.

Gono also disclosed that MSF had since invested over a million dollars to renovate Harare Hospital’s psychiatric section,  introduce psycho-education so as to change the attitude of people towards mental patients so as to reduce the chance of these patients relapsing.

Speaking on behalf of the minister of health and child care, deputy director mental health services Sydney Makarawu promised that government will look at the challenges detained mental patients were facing and come up with sound solutions.

Between January and December 2016, of the 491 patients discharged from various psychiatric institutions 27 were re admitted while only six of the 172 admitted between April 2016 and February 2017 were re admitted after MSF engaged Harare City Council poly clinics to track and give home care for discharged patien

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