VP calls on Rotarians to prioritise support for mental health

Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima has urged Rotary clubs across the country to focus their efforts in supporting mental health programs, emphasising its critical role in ensuring the social well-being of individuals as a fundamental human right.

The Vice President delivered the message Wednesday night during a gala dinner held at the Bingu International Convention Centre in honour of Rotary International President, Gordon McInally.

Chilima underscored the importance for Rotarians to assume a leading role in addressing mental health issues, considering them not only as areas of significance but also as fundamental human rights.

“Mental health is not a luxury but a fundamental human right essential for people’s social well-being. Despite being a non-communicable disease, mental health is often overlooked. As Rotarians, we must pay close attention and create an enabling environment to support these crucial issues,” stated Chilima.

Chilima commends Rotary clubs in Malawi- pic by Carolyn Mkandawire

He highlighted the need to dispel the secrecy often associated with mental health issues, stressing the importance of their integration into broader community discussions.

Chilima urged Rotarians to collaborate with Rotary and ensure adequate resources are allocated towards mental health programs saying resource constraints should not be an impediment.

Rotary International President, Gordon McInally, encouraged Rotary Clubs in Malawi to actively engage in alleviating challenges faced by communities and offering hope for their future.

He commended Rotary clubs in Lilongwe and Mzuzu, among others, for their commendable efforts in improving the lives of people in rural areas.

“In collaboration as Rotarians, we must address the myriad challenges our people face in Malawi. While the needs are vast, resources are limited. Nevertheless, we must unite our efforts to provide effective solutions through Rotarian contributions,” McInally expressed.

McInally cited alarming statistics from Bwaila Hospital, where approximately 40 babies perish each month, amounting to 440 deaths annually.

McInally: The Rotary foundation helps individuals Pic by Carolyn Mkandawire

He, therefore, emphasised the urgent need for increased Rotarian support to mitigate such challenges.

Echoing these sentiments, Senior Mental Health Clinical Associate-Psychiatry at Kamuzu Central Hospital, Tommy Mthepheya, emphasised the necessity for Rotarians to prioritise mental health issues.

Mthepheya highlighted the stark reality that only one percent of the budget is allocated to mental health programs, severely limiting their effectiveness.

“I implore government to allocate more resources towards mental health initiatives in the country. At Kamuzu Central Hospital, infrastructural inadequacies persist, with only one room available for both male and female patients requiring short-term admission,” Mthepheya advocated.

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