Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa says government plans to stop keeping mentally-challenged children at institutions to curb incidents of abuse.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Parirenyatwa also told Senate last Thursday that the ministry was embracing traditional medicine in the treatment of mental health disorders.
“We do not have institutions that have been adequately addressing the issue of mentally retarded children, and we have admitted them to Jairos Jiri and other places as it has not been adequately funded,” Parirenyatwa said.
“We are moving away from institutionalising mentally retarded children, especially because there has been a lot of abuse, not just by the care givers, but sometimes in church institutions,” he said.
“The mental retardation for some of the children is very minimal and may not be easy to detect. For example, if someone has Down’s syndrome, you may not be able to tell very easily, but they may be slow in class, they love music and are very playful.”
He said other children had birth defects that caused mental retardation.
“We are now moving away from institutionalising people. We want senators to be alert that when persons are mentally retarded, let us take care of them in the home, but let the medically-trained people be able to access them.”
Parirenyatwa said traditional medicine had a place in alleviating psychological and mental stresses.
“My ministry takes traditional medicine very seriously. It is a division that we are developing. We now have a proper directorate of traditional medicine and we do not want them to be taken as inferior to allopathic medicine. We want them to be protected from herbs that are being stolen and taken to Europe, developed and sold as proper drugs.”
He said they were working on having traditional medicine patented to protect indigenous knowledge.