MENTAL Health Users Network of Zambia (MHUNZA) president Mulima Kasote says the government should also consider people with psychosocial disabilities when offering specific care as they do with other vulnerable groups.

And Kasote says the coming of COVID-19 has brought about financial challenges.

In an interview, Kasote said he had not seen anyone distributing masks to persons with psychosocial disabilities.

“You know, it’s the same thing we have always been talking about to say, there is a lot of care that needs to be given to persons with psychosocial disabilities because of the vulnerability of most of our colleagues. To start with, we are exposed because one would not be in one place because they need to go out there, maybe to get medication and all those other things. But then when you look at the specific care that is given to them as opposed to other vulnerable groups, just the other day, I saw some distribution being given to persons with albinism but then, we are left out. Even when we talk about these things, it sounds like it’s just one of those things. So, that in itself is a challenge,” he said.

“You will agree with me that the conditions sometimes don’t allow someone to stay in one place, so as they go out there, what protection measures are in place for such a vulnerable group? I have not seen any time at which maybe an organisation takes it upon themselves to say, we are going to distribute masks to persons with psychosocial disabilities. You know where you can just bring them together, of course when we talk about persons with psychosocial disabilities, we are not just talking about persons roaming the streets. There are people who are in their homes and all but the challenges my dear, are the same. So that’s our cry to those in power and even those that have a heart to take care of people such as myself and my colleagues.”

And Kasote said the coming of COVID-19 brought about financial challenges.

“Not specifically, because we were giving them time to settle down. I think the minister has had a lot of challenges and the only time we tried to engage her was on the issue of the law, because that has been an issue. We have a law in place but where implementation is concerned, there isn’t anything that is on the ground. We’ve got plans, I think it’s about two weeks ago we had a meeting with will-be partners. We called someone from the Ministry of Health who was not able to come but at least there is this new ministry that has to do with small scale enterprise, they came on board and a few other partners. So we’ve always been in a dialogue with our partners to see how best we can work together,” said Kasote.

“It’s a battle but there is always something that is being done. And I will be quick to mention that with the coming of COVID-19 I think we’ve had serious challenges even when it comes to finances yes. So that has been an issue. As at now we have, just people volunteering because of the heart that they have for persons with psychosocial disabilities but it’s not like we are sitting back, we are writing proposals and we are seeing to it that we get back on course.”