Uganda: Breaking Point at Butabika - Reform Needed

KAMPALA – Today, MDAC releases a report entitled Breaking Point documenting abuse, ill-treatment and shocking conditions at Butabika National Mental Referral Hospital in Uganda. Children were  detained with adults, seclusion rooms are still in operation, and residents with serious health conditions were left untreated. The report calls for fundamental reform of the country's creaking mental health system to better protect human rights.

View through the metal fencing on the women’s acute ward. © MDAC. Picture taken 17 May 2017.View through the metal fencing on the women’s acute ward. © MDAC. Picture taken 17 May 2017.

Monitors found evidence of inhuman and degrading conditions, deprivation of liberty and severe overcrowding, as well as widespread use of chemical restraints. The report is based on observations made by a team of MDAC representatives in May 2017 during a visit that was approved by the Ugandan Ministry of Health. The report has been shared with the Ministry in advance of publication but no official response has yet been received from the Government.

Felicia Mburu, MDAC Projects Manager said:

“Butabika fails to provide basic, dignified conditions or treatment. Sadly, the situation seems to have declined since MDAC released reports assessing mental health and human rights in Uganda in 2014, and despite United Nations experts calling for greater respect for the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities. Urgent reforms are needed to guarantee all Ugandans quality mental health care across the country and end the crisis at Butabika.”

The Parliament of Uganda is currently reviewing a Mental Health Bill. Unfortunately, the Bill lacks aspiration and will do little to protect the human rights of people with mental health issues in Uganda today.

MDAC calls for a fundamental rethink before the Bill is enacted, and specifically for the Parliamentary Health and Human Rights Committees, along with the Uganda Human Rights Commission to investigate. Urgent assistance must be provided to the residents of Butabika.


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