The provision of mental health services in the country’s public hospitals has been hit by an acute shortage of relevant drugs.
Reports indicate that essential mental health drugs are in short supply in public health facilities in Thyolo, Kasungu, at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre District Health Office, Mwanza, Chitipa and Salima.
The Daily Times understands that Blantyre DHO for example does not have Carbamazepine, Haldol oral and depot, Phenytoin, Chlorpromazine, Benzohexol, Fluphenazine, Sodium valproate, Fluoxetine, Amitriptyline Risperidone and Clopixol.
Mental Health Association Publicity Secretary Precious Makiyi confirmed receiving such reports from across the country.
He said this is a worrisome development, adding that defaulting on such drugs can have serious repercussions on the patients.
“It is a retrogressive development in the sense that we have seen patients relapsing because they have not been taking the medication as most of them cannot afford to buy the drugs from private pharmacies.
“The absence of the drugs means that their conditions cannot be well managed and this is even affecting us as professionals because we want the patients to get better,” he said.
Makiyi said this cannot be achieved when they do not have the right medication.
Dr Michael Udedi, Assistant Director of Health Services Responsible for Mental Health in the Ministry of Health, said the government is aware of the shortages and is working with the Central Medical Stores Trust to rectify this problem.
“We have received those reports as well. What we have done is that we are working with the Central Medical Stores to check their stocks and also to check if there are any logistical challenges. Once we get a report we will be able to know how we stand in terms of mental health medication,” he said.