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Soaring number of mental health patients overwhelm medics at Jinja hospital

Jinja Regional Referral Hospital is struggling to deal with mental health patients due to numerous challenges. Edith Alitwala, a senior Nursing Officer in the Psychiatry Department, says there are only four nurses instead of 8.

According to Alitwala, the number of mental health patients has almost doubled in the previous three months. She explains that they used to receive between 20 and 30 patients daily, but the number has increased to over 60 patients.

 Alitwala also notes that the unit is faced with a challenge of essential drug stockouts, adding that they have spent over two years without receiving Phenytoin and Injectable Fluphenzine, the two most essential drugs for mental illness.

URN spoke to Sarah Mudondo, a care take to one of the patients who has spent four weeks in the facility. She says that she spends more than Shillings 20,000 on drugs and food daily.

Alitwala emphasizes that the failure by the hospital to provide meals to the patients is a big setback. She says that in most cases they are forced to suspend medication to patients especially with HIV when they learn that the patient has not eaten.

She also cited insecurity as another challenge in the hospital. The mental health unit relies on the guards at the main gate, which is a very long distance from the unit.

“We have two nurses on night duty and there is a time when a patient wanted to strangle a nurse.  They had had to call security personnel at the main entrance, which is very risky,” she said.

The Mental health department of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital was established in 2010 following the decentralization of mental healthcare to regional referral hospitals to reduce at Butabika Referral Hospital.

-URN

 

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