The Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) in partnership with Ubumi have launched a Mental Health Campaign at Lusaka Central Correctional Facility (LCCF). The campaign has been launched in order to try and address mental health problems in the correctional facilities.
Speaking on behalf of CIDRZ and Ubumi at the launch, CIDRZ CIRKUITS Project Deputy Chief of Party Mr. Clement Nchimunya Moonga, said that his organisation and Ubumi were working together to improve health and mental health in the Zambia Correctional Service.
“We believe that there is no health without mental health. The two organizations have partnered on this important task of improving mental health and harmonizing their efforts in order to ensure a holistic implementation and service delivery. For the past year and a half Ubumi has implemented several activities. This includes mental health trainings for health staff, also staff from this very facility, trainings of inmate mental health facilitators, establishment of support groups for inmates and importantly, we have a mental health adviser, who has treated patients and mentored health staff on how to medically treat mental health patients” Mr. Moonga said.
He said that CIDRZ was proud to have been providing HIV, STI, Hepatitis B, TB and mental health services in 23 correctional facilities and three (3) reformatory/approved schools across the country. He added that his organization through the Community Impact to Reach Key and Underserved Individuals for Treatment and Support (CIRKUITS) project had partnered with Ubumi in order to ensure more health services were provided in the correctional facilities.
Mr. Moonga thanked the Zambia Correctional Service for their open-door policy towards partners and support in organizing the launch.
Speaking on behalf of the Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) Regional Commanding Officer Deputy Commissioner Paul Simasiku Mwizabi, ZCS Senior Assistant Commissioner Evelyn Simoonga said she was grateful to CIDRZ and Ubumi for their efforts in improving health and mental health in correctional facilities and for organizing the launch. She added that inmates would have an opportunity to learn much more about mental health – both what good mental health was and what mental illnesses were.
“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is ‘a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life , can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’, So mental health is not just about disease. It is about wellbeing and ability to contribute to the community. It is about a life, where stress is manageable” Senior Assistant Commissioner Simoonga said.
And LCCF Officer in Charge, Senior Superintendent Kenani Masase, said that Incarceration brought a lot of mental toucher and a good number of inmates if not properly counselled on the day of admission into prison, they could suffer from mental conditions which could result into death. He added that the mental health campaign which had been launched by CIDRZ and Ubumi was going to help inmates with information on how to manage mental toucher.
“This launch today could reduce the effects of mental conditions in our facility, especially that most of us hold cultural beliefs and values that makes us think that whoever is going through mental conditions, we relate it to witchcraft. This is so because people do not have the required information. As such with the mental health campaign being launched today, most of our inmates will now do away with such traditional values connected to witchcraft. This campaign will alleviate mental challenges that we are faced with daily as we execute our duties”, Senior Superintendent Masase, said.
He thanked CIDRZ and Ubumi for the initiative and appealed to the two (2) organizations to roll out the initiative to other correctional facilities across the country.