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A decade wait but still no psychiatric ward

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Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

It has been almost 10 years since the psychiatric ward in Tshilidzini Hospital outside of Thohoyandou in Limpopo was burnt down – and still it has not been restored or repaired.

Tshilidzini Hospital is a public hospital operated by the Limpopo Department of Health, and is situated within the community of Shayandima. (File photo)

The local community now has nowhere to send people with mental disorders. Instead, patients have to be admitted and treated in other wards before being sent off to other provincial hospitals that have the correct facilities.

And after 10 years of a continuing bad situation, local residents are extremely angry and believe their loved ones are being mistreated.

Tshilidzini Hospital is a public hospital operated by the Limpopo Department of Health and is situated within the community of Shayandima.

One concerned resident, Winnie Ravele, has an uncle with psychiatric problems and who poses a danger to the community.

“We are being forced to stay with dangerous mentally ill patients because we are being told that they cannot be admitted at the Tshilidzini Hospital because the psychiatric ward is not functioning. And then when we go to other local hospitals we are being told that the wards are full and they cannot take extra people. It is so painful living with a mentally disturbed person who is also a danger to the children and community as a whole,” said Ravele.

Unable to receive

Ravele resides in Lwamondo village, walking distance from the hospital. Yet she is unable to receive help for her uncle.

“Sometimes he will just wake up at night and scream for no reason. When we take him to the hospital they will just give him injections and told us to take him home. How can they spend so many years without renovating the ward? Some of us are suffering and nothing is being done to address the situation,” said Ravele.

Another concerned resident is Mulimisi Mulaudzi of Dzwerani village. Her younger brother has a psychiatric disorder and occasionally needs to be hospitalised when he becomes violent.

“We cannot be sending our loved ones to hospitals which are far away from where we live when we have a hospital within walking distance. It’s about time they take our pleas seriously,” said Mulaudzi. Last year a 33-year-old psychiatric patient killed a nurse at the Hayani Psychiatric Hospital, outside of Thohoyandou.

The spokesperson for the Limpopo Health Department, Derick Kganyago said that the Tshilidzini psychiatric ward will be ready to be used next year when the renovations are finished.

“We are aware of the challenges the people are faced with, but we have been encouraging people to send the patients to other hospitals within the province where there are psychiatric facilities available. The one in Tshilidzini will be ready to be used again in 2018,” said Kganyago.

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.