Enock Maloya is a young man living in Neno, a rural district in the southern region of Malawi. Dr. Grant Gonani is one of his doctors, a mental health specialist who works at Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU), Partners In Health’s sister organization in Malawi. Enock benefits from consistent clinical care and supervision provided close to his home by health workers like Dr. Gonani, as well as psychosocial education and support from his family and community. Enock is now able to manage his condition, return to work as a tailor, and live at home with his wife and two young children.
What Enock’s story teaches us
Over the years, Enock has had to grapple with living with a severe mental health disorder. Stigma has been particularly challenging; misunderstanding of his condition once led to separation from his community. Enock was ostracized from his neighbours and has been arrested and isolated due to his psychosis. Now that Enock is able to access care, he feels much better and is able to manage his symptoms. Over time, Enock’s neighbors have embraced him back into the community and he has been able to return to his work and help support his extended family. Enock explains, “I never knew that someone who suffers from mental illness can get well. But now I am fine, I am healthy and energetic in a good way.”
Even though Enock now has access to high quality health services, he still faces a significant financial burden due to his condition, an experience that is familiar to many in rural Malawi. Enock and his family sometimes struggle to buy food or essential household items such as soap. The provision of social support such as medicines, transportation, and food help mitigate these challenges. Emotional and psychosocial support from clinicians, nurses, and community health workers has also changed Enock’s life. Investing in rural health systems can ensure that patients like Enock are able to access high quality care and consistently manage their chronic condition.