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Health talk: Mental health disorders and demolitions in Zimbabwe

Health & Fitness
There are many forms of mental health disorders which include depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

Dr Johannes Marisa

The World Health Organisation estimated that close to 970 million people had mental or substance use in 2017.

The largest number of people had an anxiety disorder, estimated at around 4% of the population.

There are many forms of mental health disorders which include depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress is very bad and if it continues unabated, one can develop many complications that include sexual dysfunction, exhaustion, digestive problems, persistent headaches, suicide tendencies, worsening pre-existing conditions among other things.

Mental health is rampant in this world. Many lives have been lost over the years which could have been averted had people accessed the services of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counsellors. There are many causes of stress that do not require medical experts to solve but merely need mutual understanding between warring parties.

Lately, there were circulating messages about the impending demolitions of all houses built in Arlington Estate and Retreat suburb that are in close proximity to the airport. The buildings in Arlington are up-market and highly attractive and it is my belief that owners of such could have used hundreds of thousands of the scarce dollars to construct them.

It will be an abominable act to have such magnificent houses razed to the ground yet government is promoting infrastructural development. It will be flabbergasting to demolish houses in Waterfalls’ Retreat suburb where thousands of people are residing.

The city of Harare has a fast-growing population against a slowly-growing infrastructure hence the over-crowdedness that is currently existing. All this can be traced to rural-urban migration as people seek life opportunities in the city. The problem remains: Where does one stay when the rentals in the heart of the city are beyond the reach of many?

Minister of Housing, Daniel Garwe, is against demolitions so he issued a statement that no house would face such. That was good for many residents who could have gone into depression. The heat of stress could have already swept across many. Hypertension is one condition that is aggravated by stress.

Complications of hypertension can arise and these can include strokes (Cerebrovascular accidents), renal failure, heart failure or even deaths. Peptic ulcer disease can worsen with consequent internal bleeding. Patients can thus develop long term complications like anaemia at a time when blood is scarce at the National Blood Transfusion Service. It is thus imperative to avoid long-standing stress that has potential to indirectly decimate many people.

Health delivery service is not as robust as expected especially in the public sector where there is very high staff turnover as workers seek greener pastures abroad. Nurses are leaving in droves for countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and 2021 was the worst year when more than 2100 workers left Zimbabwe for greener pastures.

Government should move with speed in order to address the staff turnover calamity. The reasons behind that are clearly known but there seems to be mere lip service yet our hospitals are operating with skeleton staff.

There should be retention strategies where workers enjoy benefits that should include better remuneration, residential stands, school fees allowances, car loans or allowances, duty-free schemes. Health workers are regarded as essential services who should carry the tag forever. Why not honouring them then with what is in tandem with their badges?

Covid-19 was a menace but medical practitioners managed to contain it despite the limited resources. It is time government honours its health workers, be they in the public or private sector.

Harare Provincial Development Coordinator, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti should therefore  consider the plight of the residents in Harare in general and therefore abstain from condoning demolitions.

Government-residents engagement is a noble thing and there is no one who refuses to regularise their stay considering the costs that were involved in the construction of such houses.

Many people were tricked by land barons who siphoned millions of dollars from them for self-aggrandisement. Alas, the land barons are walking scot-free using the same money to hire expensive lawyers to defend themselves in courts. Why are we blaming the end users when the suppliers are continuing with their games? Punishing the drug abusers alone without taking a look at the suppliers of the same prohibited drugs will not solve issues! Imagine having all those houses in Arlington destroyed in a few minutes during the rain season like now! The effects are horrible and can range from health, economic, social, psychological hence the need to find amicable solutions that bring relief to warring parties.

Regularisation is the solution. Government should not repeat the Melfort scenario where hundreds of neat houses were razed to the ground in 2021.

We gain nothing as a nation that is struggling to achieve as much as possible by 2030.

Why do we opt for a destructive solution to an issue at the expense of negotiation?

Many people lost thousands of dollars in Melfort and no compensation was given up to now. What is the way forward about Melfort as it is now a forest again?

Let us unite to develop Zimbabwe. Demolitions are never the solutions to our problems but will only work to further impoverish our people!

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