WORLD HEALTH DAY 2017: 5 COMMON QUESTIONS ON DEPRESSION.

Q1: WHAT IS DEPRESSION? 

ANS: Depresssion is a mood disorder characterised by a low mood and lowered interest in nearly all activities for at least 2 weeks. Additionally weight loss, sleep disturbance, feeling worthless, excessive guilt and decreased attention/concentration etc may be present. 
Q2: WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION? 

ANS: The cause is not FULLY known. However it is known that Depression is associated with genetic , organic and psychosocial factors. An interaction of many factors is a likely cause. Adversity in childhood and recent life events such as death, divorce, unemployment & imprisonment are common psycho-social factors that could lead to depression.
Q3: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRESS & DEPRESSION? 

ANS: Stress refers to our physical/mental responses to many common demands in our environment such as work, finances, health etc. It is not a disease. Depression is a disease that is classified under the DSM 5/ICD 10. There are specific guidelines on how to treat depression. 
Q4: HOW COMMON IS DEPRESSION? 

ANS: Depression is a common mental disorder. It affects 10-17% of the population. The chance of suffering depression over ones life time is 1 in 4 for women and 1 in 10 for men. By 2020, depression will be second in terms of global disease burden behind Ischemic Heart Disease. 20-30% of patients attending primary health care clinics have a primary psychiatric disorder mainly anxiety and depression. Depression is among top 5 diagnosis made in the primary healthcare setting.
Q5: WHAT SHOULD ONE DO IF THEY HAVE DEPRESSION? 

ANS: One should know that depression is treatable. As many as 2 in 3 of people who have depression do not realise that they have a treatable illness. Untreated depression can lead to suicide. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in persons aged 15-29 years. However treatment of depression can reduce morbidity and lead to decreased utilization of health services. Treatment of depression includes Medication, Psychotherapy & electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the illness among other factors.
Dr. Chitayi Murabula.
#LetsTalkKenya

#WHDKe

#MentalHealthVoices

MENTAL HEALTH IN PREGNANCY: TOP TEN FACTS THAT MATTER.

1. Women who are living with mental illness can attain pregnancy. Mental illness can also occur for the first time in an expectant woman. 
2. It is known that pregnancy increases the risk of suffering a mental illness both during the pregnancy and upto 3 months after delivery. Therefore pregnancy does not protect against mental illness.
3. Depression occurs in approximately 1 in 4 of all expectant women. More than half recover without treatment.
4. Depression during pregnancy can affect the IQ of a child through poor diet.
5. The risk of suffering psychosis (break with reality, abnormal behaviour , disorganized speech etc) increases 20 times after delivery. 
 6. Common medications used for treating mental illnesses are not safe in pregnancy. Some are known to cause abnormalities in the unborn child while the safety of some of the medications in pregnancy is uncertain.
7. A woman who is on treatment for any mental illness (including epilepsy) and is planning a pregnancy should make an appointment with a psychiatrist to have a review in their medication and an updated plan of management.
8. Psychiatric illness is a risk factor for congenital malformation (defects present in a child at birth) as well as death of child shortly before or after birth. (Perinatal mortality). 
9. The most crucial period in the development of an unborn child is the 1st 8 weeks after conception. Unfortunately a majority of mothers may not be aware or sure of their pregnancy in this period. Hence the importance of no. 7.

 

10. Good mental health of the mother results in better self-care, wellbeing and development of the child. Those who need mental health services should be referred promptly and appropriately.

REPOSEZ EN PAIX M. ETIENNE TSHISEKEDI.

Le president de l’Union pour la Democratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS) est mort.
Africa mourns the passing away of the indefatigable champion of democracy from la Republique Democratique du Congo, M. Etienne Tshisekedi. He was the father of democracy in his motherland.
I first heard his name in 1997, while in primary school. The rebel troops of Laurent Kabila were sweeping through the provinces of Zaire enroute to Kinshasa. Uncertainty hang in the air as a showdown loomed between Kabila’s rebel forces and loyalist troops of long serving strong man, Mobutu Sese Seko (the great plunderer). The international media made a loud count-down of Kabila’s rapid advance. But another name was making concurrent headlines; Etienne Tshisekedi.
M. Tshisekedi had endured years of persecution under Mobutu. He was imprisoned many times for his beliefs, chief among them the demand for the democratization of the Congo. Now as rebellion grew in the East , he stood up to the vile dictator one more time mounting a resistance in the capital that paved the way for Kabila’s final victory. Mobutu was toppled. However Tshisekedi soon fell out with Kabila as the latter banned political parties and consolidated power. The struggle for democracy continued. 
M.Tshisekedi enters his final rest when the DRC is at the threshold of democratic transition. He was instrumental in a recent deal between president Joseph Kabila and the opposition in which Kabila will leave power peacefully after a one year extension of his presidency but will have to appoint a prime minister from the opposition with whom to co-manage the transition. 
Sadly, but following the script of the greats, Monsieur Tshisekedi will never bask in the glory of the new DRC he yearned and fought for his entire life. However the generations that come after him will celebrate him as one of Africa’s greatest pro-democracy champions. He was an exemplary figure. The continent has lost a soldier in the non-violent struggle for change.
The greatest homage the DRC can pay its selfless son on behalf of Africa is the peaceful transfer of political power from the govt. of president Joseph Kabila to a new govt. within one year.
Reposez en paix monsieur Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba.

THE EVIL BEHIND THE EVIL: PRIVILEGE OF POLITICAL OFFICE IN KENYA.

Kenyans keep longing for the day of the messaiah. On that appointed day a political superman will burst onto the political scene and within a few days or weeks neutralize the corrupt, end tribalism, restore public services and turn Kenya into a first world country. Fairy tale or fair optimism?

I have thought of the above scenario and wondered whether it could be Kenya’s path out of its deep crisis of leadership malaise and unremarkable economic progress. Its obvious that for a leader to bring about such sweeping changes he would need massive powers. We would have to exchange our freedom and democracy for economic prosperity. There is a fair chance that we would succeed. Maybe, maybe not.
However dictators come with a lot of baggage. History has many examples of liberators turned oppressors and one doesnt need to go very far from kenya to encounter the dinosaurs. The dictator could easily mutate into a monster who silences even kills political opponents, spreads terror, erects statues and establishes a dynasty to rule for a billion years. 

Well, perhaps when we formulate the declaration to install the ‘benevolent’ dictator we can make a few strict provisions to guard against the excesses.
We can put a short one term that is non-renewable. The political saviour could for instance rule for only two years by oath. Two years of nothing but pure cleaning up of the system. She may sidestep any constitutional provision that bars her from acting decisively. After the end of the mandate he will retire. If she fails to go, then any citizen should find it patriotic duty to institute a decapitation. By the end of the fixed term mandate , the nation should have achieved a total revolution then we can live in prosperity thereafter.
All this looks like a long path. The model comes with its own challenges. Difficult Constitutional changes would be needed. There would be uncertainities at the end of the two years. There would be no guarantee that we would not slide back into past transgressions. Its a gamble at best.
This then raises the question, is there any viable alternative to the messaiah model of leadership? 
To answer the above question, we must start by asking a few more questions: Why is it that we are so deeply tribal yet all aspects of our lives outside the political discourse appear reasonably insulated from the vice? Why is competition for political office in Kenya so stiff? Why do leaders hardly retire from politics? Why does that old man who was a councillor in 1988 still yearn to return into political office to ‘serve his people’? Why does corruption appear indomitable in Kenya? 
All these questions and many similar questions have a simple response; privilege of political office in Kenya.
Respected kenyan academic , PLO Lumumba has said it better than anyone before him. That ‘the shortest route to ill-gotten wealth in Africa is through political leadership.’ The starting point of interrogating leadership in Kenya should therefore be at the point of motivation. 

When the ‘unborn’ politician is sitting at home entertaining the idea of vying for the position of member of parliament, what be his motivation? What gets her to declare, taking out life’s savings to campaign?
Political office in Kenya brings instant wealth without any serious hardwork. It immediately sets one a part from the rest of society. As soon as one is elected member of parliament, your children will say goodbye to public schools, your relatives will bid kwaheri to public hospitals and your spouse will never see the inside of a matatu until the second coming. Once elected, a Kenyan leader will immediately move from dusty Makadara to the leafy Runda. Salutation changes to ‘Honourable’ many months to election day.
I opine that the high privilege of Kenya’s political office is the beginning of many of our chronic evils. 
We are a tribal nation always staggering towards the brink of self-annihilation Almost always we dont know why we hate each other on the basis of some invisible, intangible, disputable construct called tribe. It is the obscene reward of political office. Political office is so rewarding that the aspiring politician, motivated by pure greed will not hesitate to excite the most basic instincts to get elected, consequences not withstanding

For the same reason , violence, insults and bribery will be employed.
I am convinced that a few good people, even in Kenya will join politics. A few (very few) will go in with the intention of faithfully serving. However, the high privilege of office soon blinds them and transforms them into ordinary cunning politicians. Its difficult to imagine that any elected who has tasted power will share these thoughts. On the contrary this kind of thinking will be resisted even violently. That should tell you something about the extent of our challenges.
Because political office comes with unique rewards and no sacrifice, it is extremely rare to find a kenyan politician who volunteers to retire after one or two terms of parliamentary privileges. They all claim that they still have ‘some unfinished work which they had already started and it would be wise if they got a chance to complete it.’ LIARS! 
The only reason why kenyan politicians dont retire is because being elected in Kenya is a gateway to opulence without sweat. It is the reason why a senior citizen who was once a councillor in 1988 will easily declare that he is now vying for MCA , claiming that he has realised the position is very important and only someone with his level of experience can carry that important mantle. JOKES! 
The only way we will get serious leaders in Kenya is when we make political office less attractive. Tanzania is far less tribal than Kenya because Mwalimu Nyerere created a model of servant leadership in which a leader must live an ordinary life. Pombe Magufuli is following suit through personal austerity. When leadership is a ticket to paradise, there will be every incentive for using extreme measures like tribalism to get elected. When getting into leadership means making real sacrifices by leading a modest life, greed will be checked by the system, automatically selecting the selfless and preferentially rejecting the greedy. 
We cannot travel back in time to reset the trajectory of this country but we can do something about the future. How about organising ourselves as citizens and getting certain pre-election pledges from all these aspirants who are already campaigning. Lets forget about parties and manifestos for a moment and ask for simple deliverables that are verifiable. How about getting these aspirants to sign contracts that bind them to use public services once elected. Their children going to public schools and relatives being treated at public hospitals. If the governor of Nairobi can only be treated at Mbagathi district hospital , will his county govt not set aside funds to improve the services? 
These citizen-leader pledges can extend to salaries. If MPs have the power to increase salaries, definitely they can reduce their salaries, its even easier. The SRC would have no problem with that. All we do is have them commit to us in legal agreements that they will reduce their salaries to a certain figure as first order of business after swearing in. The whole point is that we need leaders who are not insulated from the realities of daily life in Kenya. We want MCAs who get into matatus with us so they can appreciate the challenges of a disorganised transport system. We want them to live with us in our insecure estates where water comes for two days in a week.
High privilege of political office fuels corruption. Some of these leaders become corrupt after going to parliament. The rewards are so high that the leaders need to steal to rebuy the power and continue swimming in opulence. We agree that some of these guys dont steal to get rich , they already are. They steal to buy new political power. Vying for political office in Kenya is the one endeavour in which the resources needed must be indeterminate. A vicious cycle becomes apparent.
When we reduce the privilege of leadership, its not necesasarily the balance of resources that matters most but the fact that we will get more serious leaders who are focussed on service delivery other than staying in office.
We should stop wasting time on personalities. We should stop sitting here hoping that a messaiah is just about to appear. We should stop giving ourselves false hopes about yet another liberation that will “FOREVER” change the country. Our efforts must go towards creating a system which by itself will attract self-less characters and repulse the greedy. We should yearn to live in a nation where you dont see the president everyday in the news. Few people know the leader of Norway, Denmark or Switzerland yet the citizens of these nations live long decent lives.
If we must have a revolution let it not be about voting out old leaders and voting in new ones. We have done this many times. The best revolution in Kenya today is one which strips leadership of all the obscene privileges and makes public service a platform for selfless service.

MENTALLY ILL PATIENTS ARE NOT ZOMBIES.

When the nationwide doctors’ strike started on 5th December, a story about patients absconding from the Mathari National Referral & Teaching hospital in Nairobi was widely reported both at home and abroad. 
The discussion that followed then showed some lack of empathy for the patients. Many of the social media posts were to a large extent made with an intention of evoking humour out of the misfortune of those patients.
In that regard I wish to put forth a few points illustrating that the patients who left the facility on that day did not in any way pose a risk to the general public. 
1. Approximately half of the inpatients at Mathari hospital are already discharged to go home. They are therefore already recovered but in many cases simply abandoned by their families for various reasons. 
2. Among those who are not discharged a vast majority are to a large extent well oriented in time, person and place. They know that they are unwell and understand why they are in hospital. They can safely travel between the hospital and home. 
3. A mentally ill patient is rarely ill ALL THE TIME. Therefore someone suffering from psychosis for example will only have some short periods of a break from reality (hallucinations & delusions). Except in severe illness most of the time a mentally ill person is well. Its just like a diabetic patient, the sugar levels are hardly elavated all the time. 
4. A majority of the mentally ill patients have access to current information including news. Towards the doctors’ and nurses’ strike most of them were aware. Remember they are patients and not prisoners. Even prisoners should have access to information.
5. No health facility (mental or otherwise) can run in the absence of doctors & nurses. A small number of the mental inpatients will not have insight therefore the inpatient environment may be harmful to the patients themselves. The absence of authority figures in the wards who are doctors & nurses means that a few things could go terribly wrong.
6. In the event a strike is planned in the public hospitals (in future), hospital management should organise with relatives to pick up patients from the facilities. Alternative methods of clearing bills can be sought but it should not be a reason for keeping patients in wards without doctors & nurses.
7. Mentally ill patients are not violent. A majority of violent crimes are committed by persons who do not have any mental illness. In fact the mentally ill are likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence. 
8. Social media posts advising motorists to avoid Thika road on 5th December because some patients had escaped Mathari were stigmatising.
9. The media has a role in correctly reporting on mental health because media remains the most reliable source of information for the public. Ignorance is no defence.
10. Given that every 1 in 4 people that you see is likely to suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, the kenyan public must begin treating the mentally ill with a lot more empathy. It could be you next time or a friend or a relative. The plight of persons with mental illness should never be seen as a source of entertainment.
Dr. CHITAYI MURABULA.

Mental Health Advocate.

THE STATE OF THIRDWAY: AN OPEN LETTER TO DR. EKURU AUKOT.

THE STATE OF THIRDWAY: AN OPEN LETTER TO DR EKURU AUKOT

15th November, 2016.

INTRODUCTION.

Hello Dr. Ekuru Aukot.

I greet you in the name of freedom, democracy and comradeship. I find it necessary that I address you directly because of the gravity of the issues at hand with regard to the current state and direction of Thirdway Alliance movement.

I wish to start by acknowledging even celebrating the work we have done jointly towards the growth of progressive politics in Kenya. As you may recall, we only came to know each other in early 2015 when we found out that we were working towards a similar goal in different places. It was during the #GoBeyondTwitter meeting at Chester house that I first met you among many great comrades from around the country.

Since then I have put my energy and resources into building a progressive movement that later took on the name Thirdway Alliance Kenya. At this time I wish to appreciate the many comrades who invested their time and effort in constructing Thirdway however small that effort was. Even though most of them left Thirdway at different times, we must be honest enough to accept that without their effort then, we would not have this movement now. It is my hope that their work was not in vain and their vision for the movement must be protected even in their absence.

 

THIRDWAY FOUNDATION BUILDERS

At this point I wish to acknowledge the many sacrifices of those who laid the foundation for this movement. They include comrades; Booker Ngesa, Yahya Nene, Abraham Mutai, Catherine Watuka, Tom Mboya, Lone Felix, Wanjeri Nderu, Ronnie Osumba, Mugambi Laibuta among others. It may not be practical to list the names of all friends and well wishers who put their hands to the plough at the very initial stages and even later on in the life of this movement. Many Kenyans have made contributions to the movement including at the time when we organized a general congress at ufungamano house in December 2015 otherwise called #Ufungamano1000. We thank all these Kenyans including those who traveled long distances to come to Nairobi in the quest for new progressive leadership.

 

SCOPE OF THIS OPEN LETTER

I have decided to write this letter to share my opinion on the current state of Thirdway as well make a few comments on its possible future.

 

Since joining up with the initial founders of Thirdway, I became an active member. I came into Thirdway as a trade unionist having actively participated in labour issues affecting doctors just after my graduation. I remain a trade unionist. My expectation then was that a progressive movement should have the capacity to bring workers, students, religious groups, the civil society, business people, the media and even political parties under a broad coalition that would challenge the status quo by providing an alternative answer to the question of leadership in Kenya. That expectation has not changed but it has been severely challenged in the context of events at Thirdway since the beginning of 2016.

 

In the course of time, I have come to realize that you support certain positions that I strongly oppose because they are in sharp conflict with the foundational principles of Thirdway including our original mission and vision. I will now highlight these areas as briefly as possible.

  1. AN APPALLING LACK OF DEMOCRACY WITHIN THIRDWAY.

It is somewhat unfortunate that ‘lack of democracy’ is not very uncommon with political movements in our country.

In the beginning when the first foundational stones of Thirdway were laid, democracy became a central pillar. We did endeavor to build a movement that celebrates democratic ideals at the organizational and national level.  Today there is a total lack of democracy within Thirdway alliance. Decision making is wholly top-down and the leadership does not enjoy the mandate or confidence of the members. The interim leadership is wholly hand-picked from your own cronies. This makes them beholden to you.

Once a Thirdway member does not agree with your particular opinion on an issue, they are framed and expelled. This explains the high turn over within the leadership and the constant migration from one whatsapp group to another. It is extremely disconcerting that for a movement barely a year and a half old leadership has been overhauled more than five times. Membership remains fluid with a majority of new members exiting the movement within one month of joining.

If Thirdway espoused democratic ideals, the bulk of its members would stay longer and the turnover of would be far smaller. Among the many controversial decisions that members were denied a chance for honest debate include; i] Your decision to vie for president on a Thirdway ticket as the sole candidate without a process of nomination,  internal consultations or formal endorsement. Ii] The decision to pick a camel as the symbol of the party thereby creating an impression that Thirdway is a pastoralist movement. This greatly diminished the stature of the movement against a backdrop of loud protests by members. The protests were dismissed quite casually.  Iii] The unfair decision to expel comrades Booker Ngesa and Wanjeri Nderu among others on false allegations and without the benefit of a hearing by a neutral committee which I suggested but the suggestion was ignored.

During a meeting of members held on 17th September, the members present were told to make comments about the future direction Thirdway. It is extremely unfortunate that the open discussion on that day has formed the basis for the most vicious witch-hunt since the 18th century. Those who made divergent views on that day are now being targeted and some have already been removed from Thirdway. I wish to state that whereas democracy can be nurtured to grow, dictatorship also obeys the rules of nurture and growth. Oppressive regimes begin with simple acts of intolerance and before you know, huge crowds are chanting ‘hail fuhrer!’ and the inquisition begins.

 

  1. LACK OF DECORUM WITHIN THIRDWAY LEADERSHIP

The manner in which supposed senior Thirdway officials address members is extremely uncouth. When members raise even innocuous questions on the direction of the movement , they are loudly shouted down using insults and threats of removal from Thirdway groups. In most cases they are removed even after a minor altercation. What should be civil discussions quickly turns into a long lecture by the chairman and his side-kicks on why members should pay up before they can ask questions.

A whole chairman even stoops as low as scanning members social media pages , takes screen shots then hastily posts them on the discussion thread as a prove that the said members are not Thirdway members. This great aversion to debate raises questions as to whether Thirdway is truly the home of progressive politics in Kenya.

Most discussions within Thirdway end with the removal of a member by the arrogant self anointed leadership surrounding you my brother, Dr Ekuru. You have been completely unable to give leadership in simple matters regarding management of conflicts within Thirdway. On the contrary you have seemed to support diversion from debate and even supported false propaganda against your own members and fellow leaders. The arrogant and selfish group that surrounds you glories in winning small turf wars inside Thirdway instead of confronting the hard politics of Kenya. The scriptures in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 7.5 sounds an important warning; It is better to heed the rebuke of the wise than listen to the song of fools.

 

  1. SYCOPHANCY AND THE CULT OF PERSONALITY

The cult of personality was one of the many evils that the Thirdway movement was designed to fight and overcome. However Thirdway has slowly transformed into a nursery of the same vice. The small oligarchy that surrounds you openly advocates for sycophancy towards you as a measure of loyalty to the movement. This is both dangerous and retrogressive. I wish to reiterate that ‘Ekuru for president’ is not a plan, it cannot by itself transform our Kenyan society because it is not an ideology.

I have to remind you that we promised our members at the beginning that the difference Thirdway would create is to remove tribalism and the personality cult from the centre of Kenyan politics, replacing the vices with solid ideologies. Even though the journey of Thirdway towards real leadership in Kenya remains in infancy, retrogressive tendencies are already being welcomed, condoned and even perpetrated by the top leadership.  It is therefore delusional to imagine that you are unaware or that you do not directly sanction these retrogressive tendencies. If we cannot be trusted to keep these simple promises that we made to our comrades just a few months ago, how will Kenyans trust us with the transformation of the whole society?

KANU sycophancy remains a condemned phenomenon of Kenyan history. Those who are yearning for change in Kenya must therefore exercise extreme caution over the compromises they must make on those who pride themselves as change agents. While some of the organizational improprieties at Thirdway might seem trivial at first sight, the potential for malignant growth of such improprieties into a monster must be borne in mind. It is extremely dangerous for any leadership in any organization big or small to take off using an autocratic gear.

 

  1. A MEMBERSHIP BASED ON FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS

The current Thirdway membership categories include platinum (ksh 100,000), gold (ksh 50, 000), silver (kshs 25,000), bronze (ksh 10,000) and ordinary membership (ksh 100). This type of membership obviously has precedent in political parties in Kenya. However it creates an animal farm syndrome where the rich are more equal than the poor. It sets Thirdway apart as an elitist movement which has no equal place for students, workers and the unemployed youths of Kenya as well as millions of rural peasants. If they must join the movement then they are forced into the lowest caste.

It should raise eye brows that on an issue as fundamental as membership to the organization, Thirdway has chosen to borrow the retrogressive model of the status quo parties of Kenya. The noxious consequencies of this varied membership model are already being felt whereby members who have not yet paid up are being openly threatened with expulsion from the movement. This creates an impression that there are members within the Thirdway oligarchy who are mainly interested in using this movement as a cash cow.

Complaints are already emerging on the poor quality of T-shirts that are being produced at inflated cost by one of the officials close to you Dr Ekuru. The better alternative to this elitist model of categorizing members would have been to allow free membership then let members contribute according to their abilities. In the Christian tradition , it has been long acknowledged that it is not necessarily the person who gives the highest absolute amount that should receive the praise of being committed to the course. In addition, a political movement must not be run like a funeral committee.

 

  1. USE OF TRIBALISM AS A CAMPAIGN TOOL BY DR EKURU.

 

One of the foundational principles of Thirdway was to inaugurate the end of tribalism as an instrument of acquiring political power. The use of tribalism to appeal to the masses has been greatly condemned by all progressive voices in Kenya. In a 2012 speech, the then chief justice Dr Willy Mutunga criticized the phenomenon of the vernacular politician in Kenya in which an emerging leader first aspires to become a tribal chief by galvanizing tribal votes. While Thirdway originally condemned tribalism, there has been a steady drift towards making Thirdway first a tribal party.

Having traveled with Thirdway to areas where the locals share a language with Dr Ekuru, I saw first hand ethnic mobilization that we had been condemning back in Nairobi. There was the re-enactment of the ‘mtu wetu’ narrative in which the common denominator between the Thirdway leader and the locals was the tribe. The intentions of the leadership was confirmed when a few days later a camel was picked as the symbol of Thirdway against the wishes of a majority of Thirdway members. Today the leadership in Thirdway has adopted a policy of first mobilizing the nomadic group as a stronghold thereby borrowing a script from the status quo. We cannot have a progressive future when we make it a continuation of the past.

CONCLUSION

I wish to state that while these differences do exist, we still share certain common positions. However these differences threaten to derail a movement that was at some point heralded by even those did not support it as a good idea. I raise these issues on behalf of all Thirdway members who share the same position that the movement needs serious internal reforms that would see it re-apply its progressive foundational principles. I have raised these issues before but no cogent responses have been put forth except for a few ad hominems.

I wish to reiterate my earlier positions that all members and leaders who were unfairly removed from the movement they helped build should be given an option of returning. It must also be remembered that Thirdway does not hold a patent to progressive thought in Kenya. In the absence of corrective measures that address issues raised in this letter as well as previous forums, aggrieved members will seriously consider publicly withdrawing support for your candidature and pursuing the dream of a progressive prosperous Kenya from a different space. This is their political right and they will not hesitate to invoke article 38 (1) of the constitution.

Thank you and God bless.

Yours sincerely

DR CHITAYI MURABULA

COMRADE IN STRUGGLE AND FOUNDING MEMBER, THIRDWAY ALLIANCE KENYA.

HOW SOCIETY ABUSES THE RIGHTS OF THE MENTALLY ILL.

1. Denying Children with mental health challenges (including epilepsy) the chance of attending regular schools.

2. Unreasonable restrictions: Locking them up in our homes – and sometimes at the hospitals.

3. Taking patients through injurious rituals (including certain forms of exorcisms) in the quest to get them healed through alternative means.

4. Beating them up when they are sick. In the absence of information, they are considered a general nuisance. Some sustain life threatening injuries.

5. The failure to provide proper hospitals, staffed and equipped by both the county and national governments.

6. Failure to provide drugs at a subsidized cost means that many psychiatric patients miss their doses and relapse into illness.

7. Locking up psychiatric patients (including those who are dependent on substances like alcohol) in prisons.

8. Terminating the employment of the mentally sick and refusing to take them back to work even when they are FULLY RECOVERED.

9. Making fun of mental illness, in a way that emphasises the false belief that the mentally ill are responsible for their illness and they should SNAP OUT OF IT.

10. Abandoning patients who have recovered from their illness at the health facilities. This is EXTREMELY COMMON. Nearly half of all the patients who are brought to the mental hospitals will be abandoned either temporarily or permanently. Only a few of the cases have anything to do with finances.

Lets do our rightful share in restoring the dignity of the sick – be it physical or mentall illness.

Article originally published on the facebook
#MentalHealthVoices During the 2016
#WorldMentalHealthDay.

AUTHOR: Dr Chitayi Murabula – Mental health advocate.