Home Health Butabika Hospital Struggles with Overcrowding Amid Rise in Alcohol-Induced Mental Health Cases

Butabika Hospital Struggles with Overcrowding Amid Rise in Alcohol-Induced Mental Health Cases

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butabika hospital struggles with overcrowding amid rise in alcohol induced mental health cases
butabika hospital struggles with overcrowding amid rise in alcohol induced mental health cases
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Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital has been forced to turn away a patient due to a lack of available space. The director general of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Henry G. Mwebesa, disclosed this information during a press conference organized by the Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance (UAPA) in observance of World Alcohol Free Day.

Dr. Mwebesa emphasized that many patients seeking treatment at Butabika Hospital suffer from mental illnesses triggered by alcohol and drug abuse. He recounted his own experience trying to secure space for a friend in the alcohol and drug unit, only to be informed that there was no room available due to the facility’s overcrowding.

The hospital, which typically has a capacity of 550 beds, currently accommodates approximately 1,000 patients. A significant portion of these patients, roughly 40 percent, are grappling with mental health issues stemming from alcohol and drug misuse. Mr. Grace Bikumbi, a clinical psychologist at Butabika Hospital, pointed out that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 constitute a significant portion of the patients, with the alcohol and drug unit admitting about five new patients daily.

Dr. Mwebesa also highlighted the broader societal impact of alcohol and drug abuse, linking it to road accidents, domestic violence, poverty, and non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The government has taken steps to address this issue, including the enactment of the National Alcohol Control Policy in 2019 and a ban on small alcohol sachets in 2018. The drafting of the National Alcohol Control Bill is also underway.

Members of UAPA and parliamentary representatives stressed the importance of responsible alcohol consumption, stricter regulation of alcohol businesses, and the need to combat adulterated alcohol. They called for the prompt enactment of the National Alcohol Control Bill into law.

As per statistics from the Uganda National Household Survey, alcohol use was reported by 26.8 percent of the population in 2014, with heavy episodic drinking being prevalent among young people aged 15 to 19, particularly males. Additionally, the 2018 World Health Organization’s Status Report on alcohol and health revealed that Uganda’s Alcohol Per Capita Consumption (APC) stood at 9.4 liters, with a higher APC of 25.8 liters among drinkers aged 15 and above.