Posts tagged as: district

Tanzania:Fears Mount Over Hospital Waste Disposal Near Human Settlements

By Bernard James

Mkuranga — A hospital waste incinerator is the centre of a scandal with far-reaching environmental and public health consequences facing some 4, 000 residents of Dundani Village in Mkuranga District, Coast Region.

The incinerator, which The Citizen learnt was installed before an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted, has exposed the residents to extreme health and environmental hazards caused by heavy smoke and a chocking smell produced by the plant.

The facility – known as ‘Safe Waste Incinerator’ – has been used in burning hundreds of tonnes of medical waste.

This state of affairs is enough to instill fear in the wellbeing of the local community.

Earlier on, not many locals sensed the possible danger of toxic emissions being spewed out of the incinerator. But that sense of safety vanished when the facility – which is located in a relatively densely-populated residential area, public places and natural environs – started incinerating massive medical waste.

Apparently, the place on which the incinerator was built between 2013 and 2014 was unpopulated when its owner acquired the land for the project.

But, the situation changed over time, and the facility is today slap-bang in the midst of residential houses, whose residents are now up in arms in protest against the adverse effects of the incinerator’s operations.

The current situation has put political leaders and public health officials in Mkuranga District under pressure to act in efforts to minimize possible damage to the environment, and harm to the health of the surrounding communities.

“The heavy, smelly smoke produced by the burning of hospital waste in this area is putting us all in a very difficult situation. It is very irritating; it smells like burning (human) bodies, or noxious toxins… It is really difficult to exactly describe thetype of smell which we inhale,” complained a Dundani villager, Mbarka Salumu.

Mr Salumu claimed his family almost incessantly suffers from bouts of flu, coughs and severe fever, strongly believing that the contagions are the effects of the smoke billowing out of the incinerator’s chimney.

The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) says it has not received official or formal complaints about the alleged toxic emissions.

“We received the information only a few days ago – and we are now preparing to visit and inspect the facility. We can only draw conclusions after visiting the site and inspecting the facility,” said senior NEMC official Alfred Msokwa.

Hinting that the Mkuranga District authorities had actually cleared construction of the incinerator at its current location, Mr Msoka said that they did this without first conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project.

“District councils permit such sensitive facilities to be installed and operated in their efforts to boost revenues – but they sometimes overlook safety and other issues concerning the environment and public health. They approve environmentally-sensitive projects at the local level – and, thereafter, fail to effectively monitor them,” Mr Msokwa explains.

A top official of the company operating the incinerator, who asked not to be named for not being the official spokesperson, said the concerns raised by Dundani residents and local leaders were ‘normal challenges facing businesses.’

“We have received calls from several people in Mkuranga who want us to surrender our documents. We have written to them to seek an appropriate time to sit with all responsible authorities to respond to their concerns,” said the official.

The Mkuranga incinerator does not operate daily, but when it does, the huge choking smoke produced by its operation does indeed spread far and wide into houses and open spaces.

Another resident of Dundani Village, Saidi Mnage, a petty trader has also complained that the choking smoke from the incinerator cannot be a good thing for humans and the environment.

“The emission is chocking and smells like toxic chemicals. When we ask them about it, they tell us that they are burning expired medicines! However, we don’t really know what exactly is being burnt,” Mr Mnage laments. He claims to have seen lorries coming to the incinerator under the escort of uniformed police officers to offload what could very well be expired medicines which are then burnt at night.

Dundani residents want the facility to be relocated soonest – or the chimney be elongated well into the sky.

“We are still in the dark about when this misery will end as the pollution continues relentlessly to adversely affect us as days go by,” says Mr Mnage.

Worries of health complications

The nuisance and possible health effects that could be caused by the Mkuranga incinerator were also raised by women living close to the incinerator.

“Our frustration is that the facility emits highly irritating smell. It affects pregnant women badly. Sometimes my husband buys fresh fish that we prepare for consumption. But, when it comes to eating the meal, we sometimes are unable to do so because of loss of appetite as a result of the smoke,” says one pregnant woman whose identity is withheld.

Her view was echoed by another woman, Najma Saidi. “The irritation caused by this installation is unbearable. You may prepare your food but fail to eat it because the smell that comes from that incinerator is too irritating. Now that you have come here, please go back and report about the misery we are subjected to – that the situation here is not good; it is intolerable,” Ms Saidi stated.

Students also affected

Students of Dundani Secondary School routinely complain of breathing difficulties and other irritating inconveniences caused by fumes from the incinerator.

“This situation causes us difficulties in breathing. Sometimes we fail to study in class. Once the smoke comes our way, the classrooms become inhabitable because of the swirling smoke,” says Form IV student Saidi Sadi.

Another Sudent Zuwena Salim adds: “When the smoke comes in all of us, teachers and students, are forced to exit our classrooms. It is like they are burning rotten stuff out there… “

Authorities speak out

The Assistant Health Officer for Mkuranga Ward, MrJuma Shari, said the residents became aware of the situation after a Dundani Secondary School teacher, Mr Saidi Hemedi, called to notify the ward authorities of the choking smoke from the incinerator that was adversely affecting teachers and students.

“In light of that information, we visited the area and personally witnessed how the ugly smoke was affecting the school community and residents in the area,” Mr Shari said.

The Citizen also witnessed a huge quantity of burnt hospital waste being taken from the incinerator and dumped at unauthorized sites in Mkuranga.

Lack of an ash pit for the burned waste has also been cited as a serious shortcoming at the plant.

The councilor for Mkuranga Ward, Mr Hamisi Abdallah, admitted that Dundani residents had complained to him about the irritation they were subjected to when the incinerator was operating.

“Initially, I sent my officers there to assess the situation – and the feedback was that the situation was indeed adversely affecting people in the area.

“My fear is that these people are dumping remains of burnt hospital waste in unauthorized areas within Mkuranga,” the councilor stated.

Why the proper authorities have not acted on the issue despite the endless complaints remains a difficult question whose answer Dundani residents are begging for.

The acting Mkuranga Ward Executive Officer, Mr Juma Difa, said they have requested the environment department of the Mkuranga District Council to inspect the facility and establish if it indeed meets the statutorily laid-down standards. “It is a serious problem. The incineration area is in the lowlands while the school and residential houses are on higher ground. So, when the incinerator is switched on, plumes of smoke easily spread around,” says the local leader.

He accuses the owner of the facility and his supervisor of not cooperating with the authorities. The Headteacher of Dundani Secondary School, Mr Saidi Hemed, says the school is one of the areas that are adversely affected by the choking, smelly fumes caused by the incinerator.

“It is true that this factory is causing us all problems. Students are not comfortable in class when the incinerator is in operation – and they try to cover their noses with pieces of cloth; but it doesn’t help,” he says. He revealed that his school was already in the area and was operating long before the incineration facility was constructed.

HRW on the Spot Over False Reports on Rwanda

By Athan Tashobya

Looking rather displeased, Alphonse Majyambere narrated to Saturday Times how he met officials from the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) asking for his details.

He was a bit disturbed, he says, answering to strangers, at least until they identified themselves to him. “I told them my names and they asked for my identity card which I provided,” Majyambere, a resident of Rutsiro said.

He added that it is at this point he was told that some people had made claims that he was dead, and the NCHR officials were investigating the authenticity of the allegations, justifying the reason they wanted to see his ID.

“That was quite shocking and disturbing to hear because I would never know the person behind such kind of falsehoods.”

In July this year, US rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report titled, “All Thieves must Be Killed”; alleging execution of some dozens of Rwandans in Rubavu and Rutsiro districts.

The report alleged that some people were killed because they are suspected thieves, drug dealers, illegally crossing the border, illegal fishermen, among others.

The report also points out that some victims were killed by the army, police, Reserve Forces and DASSO while others were killed by individuals on the orders of local government authorities.

However, some seven persons reported executed in the HRW report were found to be alive, including Majyambere, Tharcisse Nsanzabera, Daphrose Nyirabavakure, Jovan Karasankima, Elias Habyalimana, Donati Nzamwitakuze and Emmanuel Hanyurwabake.

“I don’t understand why someone would claim that I had been killed by security organs that have done so much to restore peace and stability in the country. Who am I? Why would the government kill an ordinary farmer living in the remotest part of the country?” he wondered.

He says that he would take to court whoever made the outrageous claims, should he get legal representation.

His sentiments are shared by several others who were reported dead by the Human Rights Watch.

Pelagie Nikuze is a mother of two and wife to Elias Habyalimana, who was also among those claimed to have been executed by the HRW report.

“They asked me about my husband’s activities in Lake Kivu and I told them that my husband never engaged in any of such and he is not even in the country,” Nikuze narrates of her encounter with the NCHR researchers.

Apparently, Habyalimana was among those fishermen killed because they used illegal fishing nets, which Nikuze says it was not true.

“My husband has no engagement related to fishing in Lake Kivu, he actually got a scholarship and is now pursing his studies in Belgium. We talked a little while ago (she displays mobile call log with a Belgian number saved as Papa Diyane.”

The resident of Nyarubuye cell in Rutsiro District said that she came to the commission headquarters in Nyarutarama, Gasabo District on instruction from her husband.

“He asked me to come here and tell the world that he is alive.”

Habyalimana was actually in the country last January and regularly communicates with his family, according to his wife.

“I actually got to know about the speculations about the alleged death of my husband after he had visited the family and returned to Belgium.”

She called on authorities to ensure that those that came up with the unfounded allegations are brought to account.

Madeleine Nirere, the Chairperson of NCHR, while announcing the commission’s findings following a forensic investigation of the HRW claims, noted that as much as the US-based body has a right to report on human rights, publishing falsehoods was absurd.

“Our investigations did not intend to respond to the report made by HRW but rather to find out the authenticity of such claims and if justice had been served to the victims and their families,” she said.

“That is how we ended up discovering that what was actually reported by HRW was not true.”

The findings

Besides the seven people who were reported dead but are still alive, the national rights commission’s findings further reveal that in the HRW report, there are “major errors”, including getting people’s names wrong, which further erodes its credibility.

For example, she said, in one instance, the report talks about Pascal Nsabiyeze while the correct names is Alias Nsabiyeze.

Four persons reported as having been killed were found to have died of natural diseases.

These include; Thaddé Uwintwali, Jean Kanyesoko, Innocent Habimana, and Jean Damascène Ntiriburakaryo.

HRW reported that six people were executed by the Rwanda Defence Forces, National Police or DASSO officers yet they died as a result of various accidents.

These include: Jean de Dieu Bihibindi, Samuel Minani, Amurani Bazangirabate, Djuma Ntakingora, Vedaste Renzaho and Emmanuel Ntamuhanga.

On two individuals, Jean Claude Barayavuga and Théoneste Uzamutuma, reported by HRW to have been killed by individuals on orders from local authorities, the Commission established that perpetrators were prosecuted and sentenced by courts as they were found to have committed the crime in their own capacities.

Furthermore, there are 10 persons reported to have been executed, but who are unknown to local authorities of administrative entities singled out in HRW report.

These are; Innocent Mbarushimana, Jean Damascène Ntahondereye, Emmanuel Niyigena, Nzabandora Ndayishimiye, Hakuzimana Basabose, Naftal Nteziriza, François Buhagarike, Bemeriki Alexandre, Jean de Dieu Habiyaremye, and Vincent Nshimiyimana;

“The allegation that 10 persons reported by HRW were executed by the Rwandan military or police officers after being accused of theft and executed on orders according to which all thieves must be killed is not true,” the Commission’s report reads in part.

For years, Human Rights Watch has published reports on Rwanda, in most cases littered with regurgitated and fictitious allegations which the government has always debunked as made up and politically motivated.

Tanzania: Exim Bank Tanzania Opens New Branch in Dodoma

By Valentine Oforo

Dodoma — Exim Bank Tanzania opened another branch in Dodoma Municipality in its bid to expand its network that now boasts of 33 branches countrywide.

The branch becomes the second in the rapidly expanding municipality.

Speaking during the inauguration at the University of Dodoma’s (Udom) College of Informatics, Exim Bank Tanzania’s Human Resources head Frederick Kanga said the bank has decided to add another branch in the municipality in order to more conveniently carter to the banking needs of various people following the decision by the government of shifting its seat to Dodoma from Dar es Salaam.

He added the branch has been strategically located at the university given the huge banking needs of the 25,000 population there.

“The target also is to provide wider financial services to the Udom community which is made up of students, staff and even government servants,” he said.

For her part, Dodoma District Commissioner Christine Mndeme, who graced the inauguration, challenged the bank to assist the government in speeding up the pace of investments in the capital city.

She also underscored the need for the banks to play key role at assisting individual, and small and medium-sized entreprises in the region by enabling them access to affordable loans.

Branch manager Faiton Samwel assured that through the bank’s corporate social responsibility, the institution will play a key role on boosting varied social services in the region ranging from health, education and agriculture.

“We are a fast growing and innovative digital bank with more interesting products and services like travel and salary pre-paid cards, USD denominated Debit and Credit cards as well as Mobile Wallet,” he expressed.

He said that last year the bank, which has branches also in Djibout, Comoro and Uganda, posted a pre-tax profit of Sh83.3 billion making it the fourth biggest lender in terms of assets in Tanzania.

Tanzania

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Call for Joint Efforts to Mitigate Disasters

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti and Queen Ingabire

There is need for concerted efforts to mitigate various forms of disasters, officials have said.

They made the call yesterday at a news briefing ahead of celebrations of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, due to be marked today in Ngeruka Sector, Bugesera District.

Addressing the media, Jeanne d’Arc Debonheur, the minister for disaster management and refugee affairs, said that the country is prone to disasters that claim lives of people and damaging properties, which calls for joint efforts if the trend is to be averted.

This year alone, the minister said, disasters, such as floods triggered by heavy rains, killed 52 and injured 119 others countrywide.

Up to 127 houses were totally destroyed and 4,620 half-destroyed.

At least 2,014 hectares of different crops have been destroyed and 125 livestock killed, among others.

She added that nine roads were destroyed while 23 bridges were washed away.

Over 160 classroom blocks were destroyed, five water channels blocked, 68 electrical poles uprooted while 16 administrative facilities were destroyed, with 27 churches as well as two health facilities being flattened.

The minister also announced Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Week aimed at increasing public awareness about the negative impact of disasters on social, economic, and environmental development.

Besides, the Week would enhance awareness and skills of people in mitigating hydro-meteorological hazards and encourage every individual and population to take part in building disaster resilient community, according to the officials.

“Disasters continue to kill many people in various parts of the country and we dedicate this week to raise public awareness on everyone’s responsibility to mitigate disasters and prevent their impact,” she said.

“In partnership with local leaders we will focus on various activities to protect environment and improve construction efforts, we will build houses for people who were relocated from high risk zones, fix roofing, plant trees and create new water canals,” she added.

Housing to be improved

Officials from Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) said they are putting in more efforts to encourage people involved in infrastructure development to be professional and avoid using substandard materials which leave infrastructure such as houses, and bridges destroyed.

According to Haruna Nshimiyimana, the division manager of housing regulations and standards at RHA, disasters would be prevented if rules and regulations in construction were observed.

“We need to actively educate the public and specifically people involved in construction to observe rules and regulations in construction by using standardised materials as well as to follow the master plan in their respective areas,” he said.

Nshimiyimana said that the Government considers relocating over 3,900 households who are poor from high risk zones while those with means can do their best to move from those dangerous areas.

Nshimiyimana also asked the public to embrace rainwater harvesting.

The public should also embrace green construction and ensure that they have gardens in their homes instead of paving the whole compound which prevents water penetration and this can cause disasters.

This is the seventh time Rwanda marks the Disaster Risk Reduction.

Internationally, the day will be marked under the theme “Home Safe Home,” while nationally the theme is “Disaster Free Home, Our Aim and Responsibility.”

Rwanda: Over 1.3 Million Children to Get Measles, Rubella Vaccine

Photo: Daily News

(file photo).

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

The ministry of Health will offer measles and rubella vaccine to over 1.3 million children between 5 and 9 years countrywide during the ongoing Health Week campaign.

The drive is part of the Integrated Governance and Family Promotion Campaign, and was launched on Wednesday by First Lady Jeannette Kagame in Kirehe District.

The two-month campaign is dedicated to a number of activities including: health awareness campaign, gender equality and reproductive health education programmes, in addition to governance and family promotion sensitisation.

Up to 1,391,451 children will be vaccinated while 1,559,455 others between six months and 5 years will also be given Vitamin A during the same campaign, according to Malick Kayumba, the head of the Health Communication Division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

Kayumba said that 4.5 million children aged between 12 months to 15 years will get deworming tablets.

Many children aged between 5 and 15 years will also get tablets to prevent them from diseases such as kidney failure, infertility, bladder cancer, among others.

According to the ministry, over 25,000 women will receive family planning services while breastfeeding mothers will be sensitised on the importance of breastfeeding their kids, especially during the first two years.

“Parents will be reminded of their role to talk to their teenage children about health reproduction to prevent early pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS,” Kayumba said.

The campaign will also focus on fighting malnutrition as well as providing training to parents on preparing nutritious foods for their kids.

Parents speak out

The parents who spoke to The New Times welcomed the campaign, saying it does not only help them have healthy children but also brings services closer to them.

“This campaign is an opportunity for parents to fulfill their responsibilities by having their kids vaccinated. I am happy that I will be able to have my baby vaccinated near home without taking her to the health centre which is a bit far from me,” said Vestine Uwamariya, a mother of three from Kirehe District.

“I am also happy that we will benefit from other programmes such as family planning and fighting malnutrition which will help us lead better lives with our children,” she added.

Rwanda

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Leaders Stand in the Way of Entebbe Hospital Takeover

By Joseph Kiggundu & Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa

Entebbe — Government has succumbed to pressure from Wakiso District leaders and dropped a proposal by State House to take over management of Entebbe Grade A Hospital, Daily Monitor has established.

According to Health Minister Dr Jane Aceng, government will instead merge both Entebbe Grade A and Grade B hospitals to form one regional referral hospital.

“It is true our negotiations have born fruits and the controversy surrounding the Entebbe Grade A Hospital is no more,” Dr Aceng said in an interview on Tuesday.

“We have now resolved as government to merge both hospitals to form one regional referral hospital with more specialists and improved services.”

Dr Aceng said since the disagreement cropped up on the proposal to give away Entebbe Grade A to State House, her ministry undertook to study the population density of Wakiso District and discovered that the area requires a bigger health facility to cater for the rapidly growing population in the district.

“Currently, the population of Wakiso is estimated at 2.5m people and according to the Ministry of Health policy, once the population of a district or a region hits 2 million people, it means that there is need to elevate the existing facility in that area to a regional referral hospital,” she said.

The minister revealed that once Entebbe Grade A is upgraded to a regional referral hospital, it will be under the Ministry of Health, but supervised by Wakiso district and there will be a board made up of only people from Wakiso District with one representative from the ministry.

When government through the Ministry of Health first came up with a proposal to give away Entebbe Grade A hospital to State House, Wakiso leaders led by the district chairperson, Mr Matia Lwanga Bwanika, opposed the move, claiming the government had sinister plans to steal the four acre-piece of land on which the hospital sits.

However, government dismissed the claims as unfounded. Since then, there have been back -and-forth negotiations between district leaders and Ministry of Health officials to resolve the impasse.

Dr Aceng said government has tasked Wakiso District leadership to identify three health facilities in the district from which the ministry will choose one that will become a district hospital.

“We are leaving it to them to decide which health facility among those they have should become a district hospital and I am sure they will soon get back to us,” she said.

When contacted, Mr Bwanika was upbeat about the development, saying the government had finally responded to their concerns and “took the right decision”.

“When we first received information that State House wanted to manage Entebbe Grade A Hospital, we thought they were targeting its vast prime land and even convert the facility into a First Family hospital. Of course, this meant that other people will not have access to the hospital for treatment, something we had to oppose. I am happy that we are now pulling in the same direction,” he said.

According to the draft MoU, which Daily Monitor has seen, State House had promised to renovate and promote staff integrity as well as equip the hospital with modern equipment.

The MoU would also allow Staff House staff access affordable treatment and care at the facility.

The agreement was supposed to be in force for five years and could be mutually extended by the partners in case of need.

Dr Robert Kagwire, the district health officer, said once both Entebbe Grade A and Grade B hospitals are merged and upgraded to a regional referral facility, it will cater for a bigger number of patients compared to what they are handling today.

“What our people should expect are the improved services. The hospital is going to get a facelift like it was done on Entebbe Grade B wing and I ask the entire Wakiso leadership to support the project,” Dr Kagwire said.

Government through the Ministry of Health in 2012 tried to take over management of Entebbe Grade A hospital citing security reasons, since the facility is adjacent to the President’s residence.

The hospital, which serves an estimated 6,000 people from Entebbe, Wakiso and islands of Bussi, Buvuma and Kalangala, was built by the British in 1904 and borders State House, Entebbe gate.

Referral hospitals

Once the facility is elevated to a regional referral status, it would bring the number of regional referral hospitals to 14. Uganda has a total of 155 hospitals (both public and private),of which two (Mulago and Butabika) are national referral hospitals.

Wakiso On the Spot Over Waste Management

By James Kabengwa

Wakiso — Wakiso District is heading for a health disaster due to lack of a proper solid waste management and disposal system.

Currently, the district has no landfill. The only known refuse management facility is at Bukolwa Village, Nkumba Parish in Entebbe municipality, which is not appropriately managed with waste dumped in the open.

“The rest of the district does not have an acceptable waste management system. There is indiscriminate dumping-in wetlands, bushes and even along major roads,” says Ms Edith Nakatudde, the district physical planner.

This has heightened fears that absence of a gazetted landfill in the district may cause diseases associated with poor garbage disposal like dysentery and cholera.

Ms Nakatudde says garbage generated in the district is haphazardly collected, stored, transported and indiscriminately disposed of.

“Even in certain areas where there are garbage skips, they are not utilised by residents, while in many places, there are no skips,”she adds.

A physical planning report compiled by Savimaxx Limited, a private consultancy firm, pins some private garbage collectors of collecting fees from households but end up dumping waste in illegal places.

“This problem is more serious in Makindye/Ssabagabo, Kira, and Nansana Municipalities and in all the town councils in the district,” the report says.

Indiscriminate dumping

Due to lack of a well gazetted landfill in the district, residents, manufacturers and the business community have resorted to indiscriminate dumping of waste in wetlands or in open drainage systems while certain backyards and road sides are filled with refuse.

Besides, there is also poor disposal of human waste, especially in congested areas or slums.

As a result, people’s health in the area is at greater risk.

Despite Kiteezi dumping site being located in Wakiso, garbage generated within the district is rarely taken there because it is managed by Kampala Capital City Authority.

Report

But Savimaxx Limited report warns that the management conditions of Kiteezi landfill do not qualify it to be called a landfill, but a vast dumping ground with a lot of associated environmental challenges, which need to be seriously addressed.

“As a result, several problems have resulted at Kiteezi dumping site such as, pollution of drinking water in surrounding settlements by leachate from the garbage, fresh air pollution due to the stench, heavy use of the dusty road to the landfill site by lorries carrying solid waste usually not secured by nets leading to dust pollution and dropping of unsightly garbage on the roadside and constant breakouts of respiratory infections, dysentery, cholera and malaria in the environs of the dumping site,” reads the report in part.

Mr Moses Ssebakijje, a resident of Kasangati Town, says the prevalence of haphazard dumping of waste everywhere in the district is a clear manifestation that residents are headed for disaster.

“We can blame our leaders, but we have not also played our part, we simply dump garbage anyhow,” he says.

Kenya:Mental Health Services Hard Hit By Nurses’ Strike

By Barnabas Bii and Winnie Atieno

Mental health units in Kenya have been among the hardest hit by the ongoing nurses’ strike.

As the country marked World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, families of mentally-ill people pleaded with care-givers to resume duty.

The worst-hit hospitals include Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret and Port Reitz District Hospital Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department in Mombasa.

The facility in Eldoret, which serves about 80 patients — double the capacity — is overwhelmed.

MINIMAL CARE

Not much is going on at the department due to the nurses’ strike.

This is after nurses who are expected to offer medical care to mentally-ill patients joined the general strike, leaving patients with minimal care and treatment.

The hospital has two psychiatrists and four more from Moi University, three clinical officers and five nurses in the mental health unit.

“We get 60-70 outpatients in a week who need mental care, which is higher than the normal 30 to 40 patients. Some patients relapse on failing to get medication and treatment at county hospitals,” said Dr Asha Mwangi, who is in charge of the unit.

SERVICES

Since the launch of the mental health policy last year, the unit has been training more professionals in psychiatry to enhance services.

But implementation of the policy is being slowed down by the nurses’ strike. The same scenario is replicated across different counties.

Patients in Mombasa County have resorted to private clinics some of which are owned by the striking nurses.

This is after services at Port Reitz – the second largest mental health institution in Kenya after Mathari Mental Hospital in Nairobi – ground to a halt.

ONE PSYCHIATRIST

The hospital has only one psychiatrist, who also attends to patients battling drug abuse at Coast Provincial General Hospital.

It also has less than 20 health personnel (nurses and clinical officers) against a maximum 40 in-patients and about 60 out-patients.

The hospital serves Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale, Tana River, Taita-Taveta, Mombasa and other neighbouring counties.

Relatives of mentally-ill patients said they were seeking treatment at private health facilities.

DETEROTIATING CONDITIONS

“It is very expensive but it is better than allowing their conditions to deteriorate due to lack of treatment. The only service my brother is missing is counselling,” said one relative.

The source, who sought anonymity, added: “My brother suffers from depression and has battled drug addiction. A nurse normally gives him antipsychotic medication when he becomes aggressive.”

In June, more than 30 patients admitted at the Port Reitz facility were forcibly discharged when nurses withdrew their services.

A month after that, a mentally-ill patient from Kilifi committed suicide at the hospital using his belt.

Mental Health Services Hard Hit By Nurses’ Strike

By Barnabas Bii and Winnie Atieno

Mental health units in Kenya have been among the hardest hit by the ongoing nurses’ strike.

As the country marked World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, families of mentally-ill people pleaded with care-givers to resume duty.

The worst-hit hospitals include Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret and Port Reitz District Hospital Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department in Mombasa.

The facility in Eldoret, which serves about 80 patients — double the capacity — is overwhelmed.

MINIMAL CARE

Not much is going on at the department due to the nurses’ strike.

This is after nurses who are expected to offer medical care to mentally-ill patients joined the general strike, leaving patients with minimal care and treatment.

The hospital has two psychiatrists and four more from Moi University, three clinical officers and five nurses in the mental health unit.

“We get 60-70 outpatients in a week who need mental care, which is higher than the normal 30 to 40 patients. Some patients relapse on failing to get medication and treatment at county hospitals,” said Dr Asha Mwangi, who is in charge of the unit.

SERVICES

Since the launch of the mental health policy last year, the unit has been training more professionals in psychiatry to enhance services.

But implementation of the policy is being slowed down by the nurses’ strike. The same scenario is replicated across different counties.

Patients in Mombasa County have resorted to private clinics some of which are owned by the striking nurses.

This is after services at Port Reitz – the second largest mental health institution in Kenya after Mathari Mental Hospital in Nairobi – ground to a halt.

ONE PSYCHIATRIST

The hospital has only one psychiatrist, who also attends to patients battling drug abuse at Coast Provincial General Hospital.

It also has less than 20 health personnel (nurses and clinical officers) against a maximum 40 in-patients and about 60 out-patients.

The hospital serves Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale, Tana River, Taita-Taveta, Mombasa and other neighbouring counties.

Relatives of mentally-ill patients said they were seeking treatment at private health facilities.

DETEROTIATING CONDITIONS

“It is very expensive but it is better than allowing their conditions to deteriorate due to lack of treatment. The only service my brother is missing is counselling,” said one relative.

The source, who sought anonymity, added: “My brother suffers from depression and has battled drug addiction. A nurse normally gives him antipsychotic medication when he becomes aggressive.”

In June, more than 30 patients admitted at the Port Reitz facility were forcibly discharged when nurses withdrew their services.

A month after that, a mentally-ill patient from Kilifi committed suicide at the hospital using his belt.

Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa Recovering At Modest Pace, Say World Bank Experts

Photo: Nadege K.Imbabazi/New Times

A view of the former Kiyovu cy’Abakene neighbourhood, that’s now part of the Central Business District. /

By Diane Uwimana

The bi-annual analysis of the African economy conducted by the World Bank shows the economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is recovering at a modest pace and is projected to pick up to 2.4% in 2017 from 1.3% in 2016.

According to the 16th edition of the Africa’s Pulse, there are some factors that contributed to the economic growth, notably the rebound of the investment growth and the increase in capital assets.

“There was also renewal of confidence of investors in Africa”, says Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa. He also says South Africa and Nigeria contributed to 50% of the GDP in Africa.

He, however, says most countries do not have significant wiggle room when it comes to having enough fiscal space to cope with the economic volatility. “It is imperative that countries adopt appropriate fiscal policies and structural measures now to strengthen economic resilience, boost productivity, increase investment, and promote economic diversification,” he says.

The World Bank analysis has shown that rising capital accumulation has been accompanied by falling efficiency of investment spending in countries where economic growth has been less resilient to exogenous shocks.

Albert Zeufack says the economic growth in Burundi like other countries with fragile economy has been affected by the political instability. He says Burundi is going through a period of instability that is slowing down economic growth and weak performance due to the reduction of raw materials and internal political uncertainty or political uncertainty itself. “This creates uncertainty about investment and slows down growth”, he says.

The World Bank expert says it is important for countries to take the right policies to diversify the economy but also ensure that there is a good institutional policy.

The World Bank report reveals that the Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to see a moderate increase in economic activity, with growth rising to 3.2% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019. The commodity prices firm and domestic demand gradually gains ground, helped by slowing inflation and monetary policy easing.

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