A Comparative Analysis of Zambia's Mental Health Legislation and the World Health Organisation's Resource Book on Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation
Background: Mental Health Legislation plays an important role in the promotion and protection of the rights of persons living with mental illness and mental disability. Many Countries are making attempts to bring these legislations in line with the major international guidelines like the WHO-RB. Zambia’s Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019 challenges the community, caregivers, mental health practitioners and policy makers to rethink the ‘Medical Model’ of Mental illness and existing services. Objective: The objective of this study was to analyse and compare Zambia’s Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019 and the WHO-RB. Method: This study was a comparative analysis of two documents: Zambia’s Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019 and the WHO-RB, which contains a checklist of human rights specifications that are expected to be met at national level. This study scrutinized each component on the checklist and established the pertinent areas in Zambia’s Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019 that relate to each component of WHO-RB. Results: The Zambia’s Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019 attempted to include many legislative issues from the WHO-RB checklist. Analysis of the 27 checklist items showed that 44.4% (12/27) were adequately covered, 33.3% (9/27) were covered to some extent with missing and problematic areas clearly outlined for each of these items and 22.2% (6/27) components from the WHO-RB checklist were not covered at all in Zambia’s Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019. The items not covered at all related to rights of families or other carers, involuntary treatment in the community setting, police responsibility, housing for patients with mental illness, social security and protection of vulnerable groups. Conclusion: The Mental Health Act No.6 of 2019 makes an important contribution to mental health legislation in Zambia by bringing about the promotion, protection, respect of the rights and dignity of persons with mental illness. However, some efforts need to be made to respectively amend and include the problematic and completely absent components so as to produce a mental health act that is complete and inclusive.
It is condition of publication in the journal that the authors assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Zambia. To this effect all accompanying letters must contain the following statement. The authors being the sole and legitimate holder of the copyright hereby transfer it to Medical Journal of Zambia.