News release

Zimbabwe: Mental health patients benefit from improved living conditions

Harare (ICRC) – More than 300 mental health patients, practitioners and prison staff at Mlondolozi Prison are benefitting from refurbished facilities that enable a more conducive environment for psychiatric treatment, social rehabilitation and preparation for reintegration.

The improved facilities were commissioned by the Minister of State in the Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Hon. Clifford Sibanda, at a ceremony at Mlondolzi Prison on 23 March.

The renovations included transforming the family visit area to enable more contact between mental health patients and their families during visits. The changes also place offices and spaces for engagement between mental health practitioners and patients at the centre of the prison.

"Regular contact between mental health patients and their families plays a key role in providing patients with the support they need and preparing them for social reintegration," said Placidia Vavirai, an ICRC water and sanitation engineer.

This pilot project was initiated by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at Mlondolozi Prison due to the unique needs of mental health patients. Extensive works were carried out by ZPCS artisans and ICRC engineers to improve space, ventilation and natural lighting within mental health patients' cells. The works also rehabilitated water and sanitation facilities at the prison, increased the space available for rehabilitation activities, and upgraded kitchens to improve cooking capacity and save energy.

"To ensure that future repairs and maintenance can be carried out at the same standard, ICRC engineers worked closely with ZPCS artisans over 18 months," said Thomas Merkelbach, Head of the ICRC Delegation in Zimbabwe. "We look forward to similar best practices on rehabilitation and space management in prisons being considered and adopted by the ZPCS elsewhere in Zimbabwe."

The ICRC has been visiting inmates in Zimbabwe since 2009. In cooperation with prison authorities, it regularly visits prisons to monitor treatment and conditions of detention. The ICRC supports efforts by the prison authorities to improve the productivity of prison farms, rehabilitate critical infrastructure and monitor the health care of inmates.

For further information, please contact:
Hilton Zvidzayi, ICRC Harare: +263 774168199

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