Thirty patients from Khami Prison in Bulawayo have been reportedly diagnosed with pellagra following deteriorating services and shortage of food supplies in prisons and mental health institutions.
Chinhoyi Member of Parliament, Dr Peter Mataruse highlighted that the situation at some of the mental health institutions is shocking and the government has to do its homework to improve the conditions.
“I think there is a deliberate neglect of mental health patients in Zimbabwe. Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital Patients are being served sadza with salt because there are no food supplies. There is no linen, blankets, soap and the patients are just surviving,” said Dr Mataruse.
“At Khami prison, 31 people have been diagnosed with pellagra and the unfortunat part of it is that one of them died recently due to the condition,” added Dr Mataruse.
Pellagra disease is caused by a deficiency of niacin and protein in the diet. Its symptoms are skin eruptions, digestive and nervous system disturbances, and eventual mental deterioration.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Agnes Mahomva confirmed that she is well aware of the deteriorating circumstances in the prisons and mental health institutions whilst addressing the Health Committee at Parliament earlier.
“I’m well aware of the conditions in the prisons and mental health institutions that you have visited and as government we are trying all we can to intervene but as you know I’m still new in office, I need time to make my own rounds and not depend on the information that I was given by people who report to me,” said Mahomva.
$110 000 is said to been given towards the mental health institutions but the department has failed to access that money thus exposing the gap in mental health services.
At Mulondolozi, about 300 mental health patients are in the prisons and they are being attended to like any other inmate yet they need special attention.