By Thandeka Moyo
The number of patients seeking mental health services at Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo continues to rise with latest statistics showing that a total of 2 400 outpatients were seen in August.
This came out during a visit and donation by 26 doctors from the United Kingdom who applauded the hospital for maintaining health standards with measly resources.
Dr Wellington Ranga, the clinical director, said most of the outpatients were referrals from other health institutions.
He said the common illness affecting patients at Ingutsheni, which has 616 patients, is schizophrenia.
However, Dr Ranga said, the most common mental illness affecting most Zimbabweans is depression and anxiety.
“We are seeing a growing trend of patients who are being attended at our outpatients. The number has been growing since January and in August alone we had about 2 400 cases. These patients are those whom we treat and discharge and some will be coming in from other health institutions,” he said.
Mrs Rosset Moyo, the team leader who is originally from Bulawayo, said the exchange programme would see the institution accessing results based training in the future.
“As Zimbabwe Life Project, we decided to visit home so that we see for ourselves the experiences that fellow professionals have in dealing with mental health.
“We are quite amused however, that despite challenges, staff at Ingutsheni is still making things happen and we are confident that the partnership will yield results,” said Mrs Moyo.
One of the visitors, Dr Ben Kambasha, said he was concerned about the lack of awareness on autism and learning disabilities in children.
“I feel there is more that can be done in raising awareness on autism and learning disabilities in the country.
“There is a lot of stigma that surrounds autism and other mental health issues and I am sure through this partnership, health practitioners will be trained on how to best address such conditions,” he said.
Dr Kambasha said a lot of investment was needed in increasing the number of psychiatrists in Zimbabwe.
The organisation donated 50 glucometer machines for Ingutsheni and stationery.
The hospital was established in 1907 and has a bed capacity of 708. It is the sixth biggest hospital in Zimbabwe and one of the biggest mental health training institutions in Africa. The Chronicle.