Mentally ill patients in Acholi cry out for relief food amid COVID-19 lockdown

Government food relief distribution exercise to civilians affected by the lockdown, in Kampala
Members of Local Defence Unit (LDU) offload relief food during a distribution exercise to civilians affected by the lockdown, as part of measures to prevent the potential spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kampala, Uganda April 4, 2020. COURTESY PHOTO/REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

Gulu, Uganda | URN | More than 1,200 mentally ill patients in Gulu, Amuru and Omoro districts have asked the government to provide relief food during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Jolly John Paul Nyeko, the coordinator of Mental Health Uganda says that treatment for mental health illness requires proper feeding yet access to food by several families of the mentally ill is a challenge.

Nyeko also says that access to health services have become difficult which has left the majority of them locked up in distant places away from health facilities.

Patricia Alok an epileptic patient from Kirombe Parish in Layibi division, Gulu Municipality says that she and 10 other family members are starving because they heavily rely on her two cousin brothers who are lorry drivers and boda boda cyclists.

Miriam Apiyo, a resident of Pece division added that they have been greatly ignored at this time when the world is battling Covid-19.

Major Santos Okot Lapolo, the Resident District Commissioner who is district head of the Covid-19 taskforce said that they are overwhelmed by the demand for relief food yet they have not received any from the government.

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Derrick Kizza, the Executive Director Mental Health Uganda says that the Covid-19 lockdown with no income in households is enormous leaving many people including those with mental health illness helpless.

Both Mental Health Uganda and Humanity for All Uganda have instituted toll-free numbers to offer mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic when public gatherings and outreaches have been banned.