On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, Chief Benjamin Kalu, the APC candidate contesting for House of Representatives, Bende Federal Constituency embarked on a fact finding visit to the Amaudo Itumbauzo Centre for Mentally ill Destitutes.
He stated that his visit was an effort to appraise the activities of the Centre and to acquire more information in order to enable him make adequate representation showcasing his constituency’s strengths and areas of needs to the federal government, local and foreign NGOs and other world health bodies. During the visit, he expressed his heartfelt desire to immortalize Sister Rosaline Nkechi Colwill, the missionary who founded the establishment and has now returned to live in the United Kingdom. Chief Kalu was warmly received by the Director of the Centre, Very Reverend Kenneth Nwaubani who voiced his concern over the rise of depression among Nigerians today, noting that according to statistics, over 60 million Nigerian have mental health issues. Rev. Nwaubani lamented that, “politicians seem not to pay proper attention to this important aspect of health, whereas the essence of God putting people in leadership is to touch humanity”.
He however, expressed his gratitude and commendation to Chief Benjamin Kalu for taking the initiative to visit, observing that this indicated a genuine intention on Chief Kalu’s part to include the Centre in his representative functions as a legislator come 2019. After a brief welcome at Rev. Nwaubani’s office, Chief Benjamin Kalu was also taken on a tour of the Centre where the Director showed off projects recently been undertaken by the Centre with the goal of “making the place comfortable through renovation for safety, dignity and hygiene”. The 28-year old Centre for mentally ill destitutes has a total of 18 renovated residential blocks and 34 state of the art water system toilets in addition to several administrative units. According to the Director, none of the patients are locked in as the Centre operates a rehabilitation rather than incarceration model. He proudly announced that every year, over 450 student nurses across and outside the country visit to study the Amaudo model. He also gave a tour of the Centre’s sizeable cassava farm and processing facilities, pointing out that the patients are productively engaged in farming activities within the premises to keep them busy.
While presenting copies of the Centre’s 2017 annual report and other educational materials to Chief Kalu, the Director pointed out that the Centre currently has 17 community mental health clinics around Abia state dedicated to promoting mental health awareness, treating non-destitute patients, continued treatment of discharged patients and trainings for family members of discharged patients to facilitate their assimilation into society. The Director recommended the passing of a Mental Health Law by the National Assembly, stating that the prevailing Lunacy Act of 1958 is outdated and does not adequately concern itself with the rehabilitation and care of mentally ill patients. At the end of the tour, Chief Benjamin Kalu, visibly enthused by the high standards of the establishment, praised the Director for his sacrifice and brilliance as well as the Centre for adopting and maintaining international best practices in their administration and treatment of patients. He promised to make the passing of a Mental Health Act a top priority for him upon his election into the House of Representative in 2019. He also promised he would showcase the strengths of the Centre in his representative capacity and use all the powers and influences of his office to lobby for increased participation of the federal government and international NGOs in the good works of the Centre. Chief Benjamin Kalu thereafter donated four bags of rice to the Centre for the coming festive period.