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Mental Health Rehab from Hell – Part II

Ms. Desire Lavigne Karakire’s testimony, shared on her Facebook wall on 11th July 2020

I wasn’t given medical attention then (while incarcerated at the Africa Retreat Center (ARC), I attempted suicide and swallowed glass), and three weeks later when I began to bleed from the rectum with every bowel movement, I wasn’t allowed to see a doctor then either. Eventually I stopped eating, because eating became too painful. When I ate, on some very few occasions, I purged.

For a time I needed to use panty liners every day, because I was oozing a foul discharge from the rectum. I wasn’t allowed to see a doctor then too, because — I imagine — to let me see a doctor then would be to admit (on the side of the center) that I should have seen a doctor the other times too.

I could tell after just three weeks that this center was about making money from the desperate families of ill patients who knew nowhere else to go and didn’t care much about the state in which these patients were held.

A petition I started and passed around decried the mistreatment of the facility and sought the government’s arm in regulation and protection of vulnerable groups in places of treatment such as this. We were sixteen patients in the center at that time. Fourteen of us signed it.

Of the sixteen patients who were present at the time, eight had been referrals from Nakasero Hospital and two had come referred by Entebbe Lakeside Hospital, a private clinic belonging to Dr. Musisi Ssegane, the Head of Psychiatry at Nakasero Hospital.

Whether these referring doctors received a commission per each patient forwarded to ARC is unclear. What’s evident is the frequency with which Nakasero doctors sent patients here.

For a mental health facility, therapy was hard to come by. During my two months with them, I saw a Psychiatrist once in a therapy session where she asked preliminary questions about me and I answered to populate my file, and saw her thrice more for less than fifteen minutes each time to discuss issues I had that required a Physician.

I saw three other counsellors, each one not seeing me a second time after I detailed my issues in more preliminary Q&A sessions. Suffice to say, I did not have any therapy sessions that helped me during my entire two-months’ stay.

The center, advertised eloquently as a place of medical and therapeutic treatment, had a young nurse of very little experience as its sole medical officer. She struggled to circuit patients, pricking many times before she succeeded, gave me an overdose once, administered injections that got infected, and once gave me a shot that collapsed my vein.

*** End of Part II ***

We decided to publish Desire’s testimony, in the hope that it will be read by those with mental ill-health and who are searching for the right care, so that they and their loved ones may make informed decisions.

Sharing of Desire’s testimony is in line with our empirical evidence based advocacy work. We wish for her testimony to come to the attention of duty bearers within civil society and as well as government departments.

We desire that her testimony will provoke action, including but not limited to, investigation of mental healthcare service providers; ensuring that they do right by their patients; and ensure that a valid mental healthcare policy is in place and that it is fully implemented and enforced.

It is important to share that the ARC did respond to Desire’s testimony thus:

A response which desire characterized as: “the last kicks of a dying horse.”

5 responses to “Mental Health Rehab from Hell – Part II”

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