NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 10 – As Kenya joined other nations in marking world mental health day, the government is being urged to fast-track measures to have policies that address needs of the mentally handicapped.
Speaking as he flagging off the Moi Day walk to aid the mentally handicapped, retired president Daniel arap Moi said it was necessary to move with the times and make the lives of all Kenyans equal.
He said legislation for the mentally handicapped would recognise them as part of the society and be considered when making national decisions.
"We must remember that mentally challenged people are part of our society and should be treated like anyone else," the former president stressed.
He also underscored the importance of those who take care of people with mental disability saying they also needed to be remunerated well for their efforts to ensure they deliver the best possible care.
"People with disability require daily assistance to help them get by, hence the need to encourage those taking care of them," he said.
Gender and Special Development Minister Esther Murugi said government was in the process of introducing training courses for those who take care of the mentally handicapped to improve the standards of care as well as knowledge of how to handle such cases.
"These are special people with special needs that need good care," she said.
She said her ministry was also pushing to have the Disabilities Act amended to incorporate those with mental disabilities.
Ms Murugi said this would give wholesome cover to all those with special conditions under law.
She also called on families with such cases to take take their children to hospital s and care centres to receive treatment.
"Your Excellency, you are seeing the best of the mentally handicapped there are some who are hidden not to be seen by the physical eye," she stressed.
Ms Murugi appealed to the Ministry of Planning to make information of those with mental disabilities available so that statistics are readily available.
"This will help because we will know how many we need to be institutionalised so that they can get the best care possible," she said.
The minister said it would also free up parents of children with the condition, to focus on economic activities.
The retired president dedicated this year’s Moi Day celebrations to a charity walk to raise funds towards alleviating the suffering of the mentally disabled persons.
During the walk, Sh2.7 million was collected for the kitty. The money will be used to help with the upkeep of people with mental disabilities.
Everybody with mental disability is expected to receive Sh4,500 per month for the rest of their lives to cater for their livelihood.