Amaudo Itumbauzo is a mental health project based in Itumbauzo South Eastern Nigeria. It provides accessible, affordable and sustainable systems of mental health care as well as provides rehabilitation for individuals who have become homeless due to mental health problems and learning disabilities.
The project is supported to achieve its goals by Amaudo UK (www.amaudo.org), through awareness raising, assisting volunteers to the project, providing resources such as medical supplies and co-managing projects.
Amaudo Itumbauzo was established in 1990 with the support of methodist church Nigeria, in response to increasing numbers of mentally ill persons roaming the streets of local municipalities of Abia state, South Eastern Nigeria. From modest beginnings, the initiative has grown to comprise 5 projects, each addressing a specific area of work:
Amaudo Okopedi community centre for the mentally ill. It has capacity for up to 65 destitute mentally unwell individuals and it serves as a base for their rehabilitation and repatriation to their homes and communities.
Project Comfort community based rehabilitation for children with learning disabilities living with their families. It has a partner project Renew which makes specialist equipment such as wheelchairs and callipers.
Amaudo Ntalakwu family house for young people with learning disabilities, and co-operative community village for stable ex-residents of Amaudo Okopedi.
Human Rights project, which addresses attitudes towards mental illness sufferers through training, awareness raising and challenging beliefs.
Community Psychiatric Programme, a partnership between Amaudo Itumbauzo and government which sees Amaudo supporting as many as 73 clinics in 5 states of South Eastern Nigeria with medication and motor cycle transport to aid health visits.
The Community Psychiatric Programme has provided a means of sustainable mental health service provision overall. The local government provides, and pays the wages of the nurses as well as makes clinic space available. The Federal Neuro-psychiatric hospital has been a vital partner as well, insofar as it sends trainee psychiatrists on rotational bases to provide clinical care at Amaudo Itumbauzo.
The Amaudo Itumbauzo project is not without its challenges. Stigma towards the mentally unwell affects support for the project, as well as impacts on comprehensive rehabilitation of successfully treated clients. Government support for the project is weak and infrastructure such as roads leading in and out of the project is in a terrible state of disrepair.
Amaudo Itumbauzo finds it a challenge attracting mental health professionals because it is situated in a rural rather than urban area. Poor funding also means that existing staff are poorly paid and this affects their motivation to work.
Going forward, Amaudo Itumbauzo hopes to strengthen its partnership with government to ensure the sustainability of its work of providing vital community mental health care. It will also work to improve its funding streams and improve its engagement with mental health professionals and institutions.
Reverend Kenneth Nwaubani
Reverend Kenneth Nwaubani is welfare officer of Amaudo Itumbauzo.