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The management of Oshakati Intermediate Hospital in the Oshana Region is advocating for the establishment of a mental health hospital in Oshana to address the high volume of mental health patients who are currently being directed to Oshakati Intermediate Hospital on a daily basis.

They made the call during the visit of members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development, and Family Affairs to the hospital.

The psychiatric ward supports mental health patients through a team comprising three specialists, four medical doctors, and 15 interns.

The psychiatric ward at Oshakati Intermediate Hospital deals with a daily influx of 70 to 80 patients, causing overcrowding.

This emphasises the necessity for a dedicated psychiatric hospital in the region, one that can deliver appropriate healthcare to these patients, as Oshakati Hospital is where all psychiatric patients from Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Kunene are referred.

Stigma and discrimination against patients with mental health disorders exist within families and communities, and this is a great concern.

There is a challenge with some mental health patients quitting their medication because there is no proper care from the family.

"We have a serious issue as Africans, we don't accept psychiatric patients close to us; we believe that it is a bad spirit that came to the family, even most of them; we don't want them in our houses; we don't want them in our communities; we want them back to the hospital with more than 100 beds and an occupancy rate of more than 100%; we cannot take all these patients and bring them here; we are spending quite a lot because the same person that comes to the hospital has to stay here; we have to feed them."

Dr. Asumani Kibandwa, the Chief Medical Officer in the Oshana region, while expressing his dismay at families who decline to retrieve their discharged psychiatric patients, also emphasises the importance of establishing psychiatric facilities within the community.

"When a patient is discharged from the hospital before he goes to the community or family, there is an intermediate house that is taking care of them and teaching them what to do. We can use them for plantations, we can use them for little activities, and they can become productive for the community and the entire country."

Annually, Oshakati Intermediate Hospital admits two thousand inpatients and attends to fifteen thousand outpatients at its psychiatric ward.

The ward has a total bed capacity of 140, with the female wing accommodating 58 patients and the male wing accommodating 82 patients.

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Author
Tonateni Haimbodi