Mentally ill Limpopo kids crammed into cubicles

15 November 2017 - 12:36 By Naledi Shange
Mental healthcare usually bore the brunt of budget cuts in the Limpopo health system.
Mental healthcare usually bore the brunt of budget cuts in the Limpopo health system.
Image: lassedesignen/123rf.com

Limpopo has no facilities to cater for children and adolescents who are in need of mental healthcare‚ the SA Human Rights Commission heard on Wednesday.

Children are kept at the same facilities as adults‚ but in cubicles closest to the nurses’ stations‚ said Dr Monicah Ndala‚ a psychiatrist from the province.

“At times we put them in the seclusion rooms to ensure that they are not molested by the adult males or we ask the paediatric unit to keep them there but we do our rounds there and check on them‚” Ndala said.

She stressed that mental healthcare usually bore the brunt of budget cuts in the Limpopo health system.

“If there are any budget cuts‚ they will start with mental health‚” she said.

Asked for clarity‚ she rephrased her statement‚ saying when there were budget cuts‚ mental health would most certainly be affected.

Ndala was testifying before the commission‚ which is probing the status of national mental healthcare after the Life Esidimeni tragedy that resulted in 100 mental health patients dying after they were moved to ill-equipped facilities in Gauteng.

Ndala said Limpopo had many problems‚ including a lack of human resources‚ clinical staff and infrastructure.

There were also no community residential care facilities under the provincial department.

“In some cases‚ we have untraceable families or we have those that are rejected by their families where they say‚ ‘We do not want him at home anymore‚’” Ndala added.

Many patients often ended up back in the system after being rejected by their families‚ fuelling overcrowding.

Limpopo had also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mpumalanga province to accept many of their patients.

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