DAA News Network

Kenya: People with mental health problems and learning difficulties face neglect and abuse

Posted 02/3-11 at 00.28

The estimated three million Kenyans with learning difficulties or mental health issues endure intense stigma from society and get virtually no help from the state.

A CNN report found families locking up their loved ones, children discarded by institutions and cases of suspected sexual abuse.

A representative case is that of Thomas Matoke (33), who has been tied to a bed frame for almost all his life. His mother says they have been chased away from village after village by angry, fearful neighbours.

Thomas Matoke

Thomas Matoke

The Kenyan government spends less than one percent of its health budget on mental health, though one-quarter of all patients going to hospitals or clinics complain of mental health issues. Dr. Frank Njenga, president of the African Association of Psychiatrists says, "The policy is very clear. Mental health services are a priority in this country. The practice is also clear. They (the services) are not. We as a people have perfected the system of hiding our friends, relatives and other loved ones who have intellectual disability away from sight. Out of sight, out of mind, no funding, neglected completely."

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