Advocates Push for 1948 Mental Treatment Law Amendment
Stakeholders have made fresh calls for speedy amendment of the Mental Treatment Act of 1948 saying the law does not talk with other health and human rights laws.
The calls were made on Wednesday in Lilongwe during a high-level meeting organized by the Mental Health Users and Carers Association (MeHUCA) where the organization also presented its position paper on challenges mental health users face in their communities to government and other partners.
MeHUCA Executive Director Memory Bismarck said the law is archaic and is in conflict with other laws.
"Our findings show that most Malawians do not respect the rights of persons with mental illness because of ignorance and we need to continue sensitizing masses on the rights of persons with psychosocial disability," said Bismarck.
Acting Executive Director of Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi Simon Munde agrees with Bismarck.
He said the current Mental Treatment Act does not encourage the primary holders who are persons with mental disabilities to access health services.
"This law was enacted by the colonialists seven decades ago and we cannot allow this act to continue governing such an important mental health sector. Surely it needs to be revised," said Munde.
Head of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health in the Ministry of Health Dr. Jonathan Chiwanda told Zodiak Online that the findings have rich information which will help the ministry to improve on provision of health services to the users.
"Mental Health is among the list of government's health concerns and this is the reason it is included in the 2023-2030 health sector strategic plan," said Dr. Chiwanda.
According to Chairperson of the Central Executive Council of MeHUCA Simon Thom, through the meeting, the organization expects a significant improvement on the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities.
Officials from the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare and Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) also attended the meeting.