Sunday, February 20, 2011

David @McKenzieCNN Reveals Kenya's "Locked Up And Forgotten"

CNN International's next installment of 'World's Untold Stories' reveals a dark secret from Kenya. A situation that reportedly affects 3 million people. Hosted by David McKenzie, the special premieres this weekend at 1400 GMT, and also airs on the following dates:

March 12th Saturday at 2200 HKT
March 13th Sunday at 0500 and 1700 HKT
March 15th Tuesday at 1830 HKT
March 16th Wednesday at 0130 HKT
** HKT = +8 GMT

A preview and press release from CNN follows below.

CNN Press Release: Across Kenya there is a terrible secret, a secret that affects more than three million men, women and children. People locked up in darkened rooms barely existing, despised and shunned by families and neighbours. In this edition of ‘World's Untold Stories: Locked Up And Forgotten' CNN takes viewers inside the terrifying world of the mentally ill in Kenya.

David McKenzie, CNN's award-winning Nairobi-based correspondent spent many months uncovering victims hidden away in darkened rooms, in small villages and makeshift accommodation. His documentary tells the story of a few of the millions of mentally ill Kenyans suffering in silence, ignored, forgotten and degraded.

People like Thomas Matoke, who for more than 30 years has spent his life in a makeshift cell, tied up to a steel bed frame with a piece of blue rope. He's surrounded by pools of his urine, his mattress soiled and ripped to shreds.

After a childhood illness, Matoke lost much of his high-level functioning, so his mother ties him up to prevent him from running away or hurting himself. Countless trips to doctors and hospitals haven't helped him, and poverty means there isn't much medical help his family can afford.

This is just one story that forms part of CNN's special investigation which found that families across Kenya are struggling to cope with their loved ones who are mentally ill, receiving little help from the state and facing massive stigma from society.

The Kenyan government spends less than one percent of its health budget on mental health, though their own figures show one-quarter of all patients going to hospitals or clinics complain of mental health issues.

Dr. Frank Njenga, President of the African Association of Psychiatrists and a leading expert in the field, believes the scale is "catastrophic."

"We as a people have perfected the system of hiding our friends, relatives and other loved ones who have intellectual disability away from sight," says Njenga. "Out of sight, out of mind, no funding, neglected completely."

In the making of this harrowing film McKenzie's team met families locking up their loved ones, torn apart by shame; children discarded by institutions and living in poverty; and suspected sexual abuse cases.

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