Community based mental health care: a necessity for realising the right to independent living and community inclusion of persons with mental disabilities in Uganda

Doctoral Thesis

2023

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Using a purely doctrinal legal analysis, the thesis advocates for the provision of community based mental health care as a key strategy in promoting the realisation of the right to independent living and community inclusion for persons with mental disabilities (PWMDs) in Uganda. Uganda ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRDP) on the 25th September 2008 without reservations following its adoption in 2006. This is in addition to earlier undertakings in a number of preceding international and regional human rights treaties that guaranteed the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Prior to the ratification of the UNCRPD, Uganda's also had national progressive legal framework, like the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 and the Person with Disability Act 2006 (now Persons with Disabilities Act 2020) that provided meaningful safeguards towards the protection of the rights of PWDs. Despite these commendable legislative gains, the thesis contends that Uganda is still largely premised in the medical model of disability and far from tangibly attaining the aspirations set out in the UNCRPD and its paradigm shift to the social and human rights model of disability. The recently enacted Mental Health Act 2019 though progressive still falls short of streamlining the provision of community based mental health care to address the long standing practice of institutionalisation of PWMDs in mental health facilities and prisons. The social and environmental barriers manifested in negative attitudes, stigma and discrimination are characteristic of the populace. Institutionalisation, isolation and segregation of PWMDs in violation of Article 19 of the UNCRPD and other related articles is evidently persistent. To exacerbate the situation, Uganda has not yet conceived a plan to design an independent or community living strategy or policy for her citizens with mental disabilities.
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