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    Monday, 2 October 2017

    Malnutrition for the mentally ill as food crisis hits Ngomahuru


    MASVINGO –  A food crisis has hit Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital and the 160 inmates at the institution are showing all the signs of malnutrition including being wasted, the institution's medical director, Dr Parirenyatwa Maramba has said.
    Speaking during a donation of food stuffs by a group of students from MSU's Julius Nyerere School of Science (Psychology) on Thursday last week, Dr Maramba said the hospital has no money to buy food and Government did not avail any throughout the first half of the year because of the present economic situation facing the country.
    He said the money that has been consistently received from Government is for the medicines.
    "As a result I don't remember the last time that inmates had meat as part of their relish. The inmates are having sadza and vegetables that have neither cooking oil nor tomatoes every day. They are also having rice without soup and tea that has no sugar," said Dr Maramba.  
    He said that malnutrition is worst among inmates who have stayed longest at the hospital and one of them has severely wasted away. He said there were many other signs of malnutrition among the inmates including skin rash and swollen feet.
    "We are appealing for donations from well-wishers and I am also calling on people to visit the hospital and see the situation for themselves," said Dr Maramba.
     He said although Government released some funds recently to the hospital, access has been difficult because the money is now withdrawn using codes and staff at Ngomahuru has not been adequately trained to use the codes.
     "We depend on Government for funding and we only have medication for patients. The diet is very poor, most of the patients suffer from malnutrition. Patients drink tea without sugar, plain rice, and vegetables every day. We are appealing to Zimbabweans at large to come and see the situation here," said Marimba.
    The 80 students donated 70kgs of sugar beans, 20 cans of tinned beans, 6kgs kapenta, 20kgs sugar and different assortments of clothes. GZU has been making such donations since in 2015 and this is done every semester.
    Herbert Zirima who is the chairman for the Department of Psychology said apart from the donation, the visit to Ngomahuru was also important for the learning of the students.
    "We started these visits in 2015 for purposes of our studies but we then noticed the critical shortages that are here and decided that we should bring some of the commodities in short supply whenever we come," said Zirima.
    Ngomahuru was established in the late 1920s as a centre for leprosy. From 1945 to 1968 it became a hospital for TB and was turned into a psychiatric hospital in 1969 
    The place has become more of a dumping centre for the mentally challenged as a large number of patients stay there for life without any relatives visiting them. A large number die and are buried there.
     "We greatly appreciate the donations from the students. Anything brought to us is really appreciated because we have a challenge especially in relish; these patients eat sadza and vegetables every day."
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    1. Good act of charity by the Great Zimbabwe University Psychology Department


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