Thursday, August 14, 2014

DRW: Judicial System insensitive to mentally disabled persons

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

The Disability Rights Watch (DRW) has called on government to ensure that persons with mental disabilities are adequately represented in the courts to avoid them being detained unnecessarily.
This comes in the wake of five persons with mental disabilities who were released from Chainama East Prison recently.
DRW president Wamundila Waliuya appealed to the Legal Resource Chambers (LRC) to take up more cases for persons with mental disabilities who have been declared unfit to undergo trial.
DWR President Wamundila Waliuya
"Many need treatment and have been detained for many years in our prisons. The conditions under which they are detained are not pleasant at all. Today, many more are still in prison without a fair trial, and there is no one to stand for the protection of their rights when found guilty after a fair trial," he said.
The Persons with Disabilities Act of 2012 states that the judicature shall take necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal and effective protection and equal benefits of the law without discrimination. This includes persons with mental disabilities.
It further states that where a person with disability is a party in any legal proceedings, the adjudicating body shall take into account the condition of the person with disability and provide procedural and other appropriate facilities to enable that person access justice and participate effectively in the proceedings.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities indicates that “States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others: enjoy the right to liberty and security of persons; are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty”.
Mr Waliuya added that “the continuous detention of persons with mental disabilities in prisons for long periods is in contradiction with international human rights law. An argument may be raised here that such people may be a danger to the community. This is a justifiable argument. It must however be realised that most of the people who commit crimes while in a state of mental crisis are usually triggered by social factors."

He said it was the states’ and the citizens’ responsibility to ensure that factors that trigger mental crisis in persons with mental disabilities were controlled.
"Steps should be taken to progressively develop community support services that will act as a measure to reduce mental disabilities. Such services include community based mental health services and community based rehabilitation. Families and communities should be educated on issues related to mental disability. "
However, Mr Waliuya congratulated the High Court for its landmark decision to declare the long detention of five mentally disabled persons illegal.

"DRW congratulates the LRC for representing the petitioners with mental disabilities. In our view, this is a landmark judgment which will build up the portfolio of judgments which promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The judgment has established precedence in Zambia’s jurisprudence."
But he added, "in this case, the courts should now shape themselves to provide reasonable accommodation for persons with mental disabilities rather than detaining them for many years as they wait for psychiatry assessment." PYM


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

UN global Message on Ebola Virus Disease

Message from the UN Medical Services Division: Information on Ebola Virus Disease

The UN Medical Services Division (MSD) has been monitoring closely the recent outbreak of Ebola virus diseases (EVD) in West Africa and is supporting the preparedness and response efforts of our UN health facilities in the affected locations.

Treatment options within the affected countries for anyone who may contract EVD are likely to be limited, and medical evacuation capacities may be significantly disrupted.

Therefore, it is recommended that travel on official business to the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea be restricted to essential travel only and that each travel request be reviewed on its mission criticality.

For the most updated information and list of countries affected in this recent outbreak, please consult the World Health Organisation website at

The following are some important points about the transmission of EVD and precautions that should be taken to protect yourself and your family. Individuals become infected when they have direct physical contact with the blood or body fluids of infected person or animal, or contact with contaminated objects.
Persons who come into direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person at risk. To date, transmission among humans has been mainly due to caregiver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill or preparing the body for burial.
A person can incubate the virus symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being 5 to 8 days becoming ill. THE PERSON IS NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill.
The virus is easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying. A washing machine will kill the virus in clothing saturated with infected blood or body fluids.
As always, practice good hygiene and hand washing techniques at all times. Symptoms of EVD include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.
If you have recently visited an area where Ebola has been reported and feel sick with any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
There is no licensed vaccine or specific treatment for EVD. PYM

Monday, August 11, 2014

Zambian health minister outlines plans for Ebola

By Meluse Kapatamoyo
Zambia’s government has heightened it’s alert on Ebola which is spreading fast in West Africa’s, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Ebola, a virus transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, a "Public Health Emergency of International Proportions".

According to a Health Advisory issued by  Minister of Health, Dr Joseph Kasonde, until further notice, the country is to ensure the following measures;

1. All Zambians travelling from the Ebola affected areas will be thoroughly screened and quarantined if the risk is eminent upon return until further notice.

2. All delegates from any of the countries affected by Ebola Virus disease are restricted from entering Zambia until further notice.

3. All International events that may involve delegates from the affected countries are postponed, cancelled or such delegates excluded. The Ministry is advising against holding of all international events that lead to mass gatherings until

further notice. This is because these mass gatherings escalates the spread of the

disease and makes control difficult.

4. Zambians and residents intending to travel to the Ebola affected countries on duty or business are restricted to undertake such travels.

For further information or report any suspected cases, contact any of the following numbers:
+26096684062, +26097742161, +26096277859, +260955411988 or email : info@moh .gov. zm  PYM

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When breast feeding doesn't come easy

By Kathryn Koonce
Eli at one month
Two weeks after my son Eli was born in February 2012, his doctor was concerned that he wasn’t gaining enough weight even though I was nursing him around the clock.
I was exhausted, felt like a huge failure, and was getting pressure from all around to give up and use formula.
The problem was that he was not latching correctly. He was doing “non-nutritive sucking” - he would stay at the breast for long periods of time (sometimes more than an hour) for comfort, but wasn’t taking much milk.
I felt a surge of pain like lightening throughout my body each time he latched but I didn’t realize this was because he wasn’t latching correctly. Ultimately my supply went down and he wasn’t getting enough milk which made him very, very fussy. Our first two weeks together were miserable.
Eli at 3 months

I worked with a great lactation consultant and after three weeks of very hard work (charting Eli’s feeding schedule, expressing and nursing at least 12 times a day, and weighing Eli before and after feeds) we finally got back on track.  When he started to really gain weight and his thighs became soft and pudgy, I was a very proud Mama!

When my daughter Naomi was born in December 2013, I was able to recognize when she was not latched correctly but I still experienced intense pain and even worse – mastitis (a breast infection that started with a clogged milk duct). I was so weak that I couldn’t get out of bed until finally I was treated with antibiotics.

Naomi at 3 months
But I recovered and things got much easier. My daughter will be eight-months-old on August 10 and I am still breastfeeding her even though I have returned to work.
I was surprised that breastfeeding was so difficult. I thought that it would come naturally and easily immediately after my babies were born.
I was also surprised by how down I felt when I wasn’t able to provide my son with the most basic thing that he needed. I want women everywhere to know that breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily. PYM