BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
ZIMBABWE’S biggest psychiatric institution Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo is reportedly overcrowded, a situation that exposes inmates to COVID-19 as they cannot practise social distancing.
Ingutsheni chief executive Nemache Mawere told Southern Eye that one ward had exceeded its carrying capacity.
“We are having a huge challenge of overcrowding in one of the wards called Khumalo ward which is located at the south-eastern tip of Ingutsheni Central Hospital .
“We do not have any other space to accommodate inmates. Its carrying capacity is supposed to be 95 but as of now it stands at 120 to 150 inmates,” Mawere said.
“Our current carrying capacity is 708 inmates altogether and we have a challenge of inadequate space,” he said.
Hospital authorities said Ingutsheni had become dumping ground for mentally-challenged patients.
Recently, Mawere told this paper that they were taking care of patients long abandoned by their relatives.
He said the biggest challenge faced by the hospital was that it had patients who were admitted long back, and their relatives never came back to collect them even after they were discharged.
Mawere said: “I want you to come to the Khumalo ward so that you can see for yourself and appreciate the reason why we are saying the male wards are overcrowded.
“It is not to do with the fact that the buildings are not enough.
“It is because people are deserting their relatives that are mentally ill.
“That is the biggest challenge that we are facing as a hospital despite other minor issues.”
Hospital spokesperson Vongai Chimbindi said the huge number of patients was straining the institution’s resources as they were receiving insufficient grants from government.