All posts by Zodwa Ngisi

High blood Pressure is on the increase in Africa

Africa is is far behind most first world countries with most health services available. We already know that adolescent psychiatry is in desperate need in most African countries, but high blood pressure is an extremely worrying epidemic that threatens the lives of millions of people living in Africa. This life threatening condition is prevalent in the majority of African countries, from the Pyramids of Egypt to the luxury Zanzibar accommodation available in Tanzania. The definition of blood pressure is basically the measure of force of the blood that pushes against the blood vessel walls. High blood pressure or hypertension makes the heart pump faster and can contribute to conditions like stroke, atherosclerosis, kidney disease, heart disease and heart failure.


High blood pressure in general seems to be linked to more environmental and lifestyle factors than genetic differences. These include things like:
• Being overweight or obese increases the risk of hypertension and other conditions.
• Excess salt intake
• Unhealthy diet which includes too much fats and sugars. A diet high in saturated fats and sugar and eating too much fast food can lead to blood pressure problems.
• Excess alcohol
• Smoking
• Very little or no exercise regime
• Increased stress. Long term physical and emotional stress can cause health issues.

These are the conditions many of the poverty stricken African people are living under and facing. Whilst wealthy people from first world countries deliberate over where to holiday, which hotel to stay in or which of the holiday Zanzibar Packages they should invest in, the lives of these local African people are vastly different.
Most of these factors can be modified and a simple change in lifestyle can help greatly in reducing high blood pressure. A positive effect can be reached by changing your eating habits and to eat more of a balanced diet. Choosing healthy food and losing weight, start to exercise and lessen or quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
High blood pressure is fairly common in developing countries especially when it comes to the more urban areas. It seems that the awareness about the condition, treatment and the control of the condition is very low.

The various causes are:
• Urbanisation: The movement of people from their rural area into an urban or metropolitan area. This creates problems from increased stress to a different lifestyle that increases the risk of high blood pressure.
• Change in diets: An increase in consuming fast foods and unhealthy food options.
• Increased Stress will increase the risk of hypertension.
• Poor access to medical or health facilities: Low awareness and no access to proper health care increases many other health risk factors including high blood pressure.
• Illiteracy and a lack of awareness: Not being able to identify or seek medical assistance as prevention rather than a cure.
• Poverty and poor diet: Having no access to the basic necessities and needs that could help prevent many health and social conditions.
• High cost of treatments and drugs: Finding a way to help lower income individuals afford the drugs needed to control their blood pressure or to provide free care and medication to those in need.
High blood pressure is also known as the silent killer with no obvious symptoms that compel an individual to seek medical aid. High blood pressure is responsible for many deaths worldwide and many of these deaths are in the middle to low income countries. High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for heart disease, which kills more people than many other diseases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that high blood pressure affects about 46 % of the adult population in Africa.
The Health policies and budgets of each government should be reviewed and programmes should be implemented to help address the lifestyle changes and choices of the people. There should be more research into prevention and also how it impacts onto other lifestyle diseases in Africa. The challenge of awareness, treatment and control of high blood pressure should be highlighted and more research should go into this problem to help bring about a solution.
The 17th May is Hypertension Awareness day and September is heart awareness month; this is a great opportunity to bring this problem out and to teach people how to treat and control the condition. These awareness days or months can provide much needed education on the subject as well as to make available services like, free screening tests that can be easily reached.

Are you wanting to volunteer or in Intern in Africa ?

There are so many children and adolescents in South Africa in desperate need of psychiatric help. African Sunrise is Cape Town organization that helps place people who wish to volunteer Africa, particularly volunteer in Cape Town. They also assist students looking to complete an internship in South Africa to find an appropriate placement for their specific field of study. For example, if you have studied psychology you will be placed with a project where your studies are best put to use, working with those in need of psychological or psychiatric attention, alongside with other qualified professionals. Likewise, if you majored in Social Work, African Sunrise will place you in an appropriate project where your education can be put to the test, allowing you to earn valuable experience in the field, whilst helping children and adolescents that have been subjected to all manner and form of abuse and trauma.

volunteer in cape town with children

Anna, one of the past interns that was placed by African Sunrise volunteers recently shared her experiences on the website blog. Anna a Swedish citizen joined the African Sunrise intern program earlier this year and spent three months working with the Soup Feeding Kitchen Scheme and also the Aftercare Programme in Salt River, Cape Town. Anna took the time to develop close relationships with the many homeless people of Observatory and Salt River and made a huge impact on their quality of life. In her own words quoted from her blog post Anna says :

“There is a warmth that I can’t describe. A lot of joy even when there is little.I have seen some hard things. The kids that lives on the street, poverty, drugs and other problems. To see the work that people do, people that now is close friends of mine, to help them in need is heartwarming. I was working in a soup kitchen, giving food to the people who lives in the streets or people that just don’t have enough money for food. Everyone is welcome. I have learned a lot about myself, and that I can do a lot for someone just by showing them love and listen to their story. To be a part of the work African Sunrise is doing makes me proud!
I can recommend you to go and make a change for yourself and someone else. Just take the change and go, it will be worth it!”

African Sunrise also works closely with and places volunteers and interns at the School for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We are really fortunate to have so many kind and willing young people to volunteer in South Africa. This school uses a variety of modalities and teaching methods to assist children with Autism. Combining applied behavioural analysis, sign language and augmentative communication methods, the school has made some tremendous progress with the children that are fortunate enough to attend. The school’s holistic approach integrates teaching basic life skills to the pupils, preparing them for life after school and how to cope with the stresses of living with autism in our society. Placement at the school has proven to extremely popular with social work students, teachers and psychology students.

African Sunrise insist on a minimum internship placement of a three-month period to allow for the volunteers and interns to firstly adjust to the lifestyle and living condition in South Africa, as well as allow for time for them to really reap the benefits of participating in one the programmes.

Adolescent Psychiatry and Addiction

Recent research in the United States showed that the abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs costs the state over $700 billion annually in related crime, lost productivity and healthcare. More and more people are travelling from abroad to drug rehabilitation centres in Cape Town, like Ixande. Why Cape Town ? Why South Africa you might ask ? Let us not forget that Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town is where the first successful and historic heart transplant was performed on December 3rd 1967 by Dr Christiaan Barnard. South Africa has medical facilities that are on par with some of the finest in the world. The University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University also provide world class training for those entering the medical profession.
In recent years there has been a rise in the number of drug rehabilitation centres in Cape Town. There are several reasons for this. Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It’s flanked by the Indian ocean on the right and the Atlantic ocean on the left, and home to to the majestic Table Mountain. Cape Town is surrounded by mountains teaming with wildlife and a rich diversity of flora and fauna. So from an aesthetic point of view, Cape Town is a beautiful and healthy environment from where one could begin building a cleaner and better life. Cape Town is also home to some the worlds most renowned drug addiction experts that have pioneered certain approaches and treatment methods. Lastly there are the financial considerations to take into account. The costs involved in being admitted into a decent drug rehabilitation centre are quite high. Not all medical aid plans and schemes will cover the costs of treatment for addiction. The debate continues as to whether addiction is a disease or a choice. The medical aid schemes that do allow for such drug rehabilitation treatments will often only cover the costs for a limited period of time. The cost of drug rehabilitation in Cape Town and South Africa in general are already much lower than in other first world countries like the United Kingdom and Holland. The currency exchange rates between these countries make the costs of being admitted into one these drug rehabs far more affordable and as a result many of the clients that are attended to by Ixande and other drug rehabilitation centres are from the United Kingdom, Holland and the USA. Research has also shown that by removing the person suffering from addiction from the toxic environment in which they have learned to thrive on drugs, and relocating them somewhere completely removed from that environment is beneficial in jump starting their recovery process.
Ixande drug addiction rehabilitation centre in Cape Town has an excellent track record in assisting both local clients and clients from abroad in learning to manage and recover from their addiction. Ixande deals with clients suffering from cocaine addiction, crack addiction, marijuana or weed addiction, heroin addiction, prescription medications, tik or crystal meth addiction and GHB addiction. There are many other legal and illegal drugs that people with addictive tendencies can become addicted to, but the therapeutic approach to helping these people is quite similar. Ixande has a team of respected and experienced medical professionals with a history in addiction treatment. Ixande also assist their clients with integration into a 12 Step Fellowship like Narcotics anonymous which has proven to be tremendously successful worldwide in providing recovering addicts with a support system.

Struggling to find a decent Southern Suburbs Psychologist for your child?

The process of finding the best and most suited psychologist to treat children and adolescents is not always easy. Anita Prag, psychologist Southern Suburbs, Cape Town, comes highly recommended by several respected delegates of IACAPAP 2014. It’s a great honor to be recommended by your colleagues in the same field, especially those who attend the IACAPAP conferences. Anita has a Masters in Clinical Psychology and Community counselling from the Univeristy of Stellenbosch where she graduated. Anita went on to spend several years in the post of senior Clinical Psychologist in the South African Military Services.  Having been deployed in the war torn Burundi for some time, Anita gained unique first hand experience of the extreme duress that conflict can cause on the human psyche and developed workshops to help local families cope with the horrific stresses that they had endured.

Eventually Anita Prag returned to Cape Town where she set up a practice as a psychologist in the southern suburbs area of Bergvliet. Anita uses the valuable and unique experiences and insights into the human condition that she gained whilst working in Burundi to help her provide her child and adolescent patients with the best psychological treatment they could expect. Sure, the impact of a violent war on adolescents and children might be far greater than the effects of domestic abuse between parents, but the insights gained in Burundi into just how extremely children and adolescents can be affected are something that really sets Anita aside from many of her colleagues. Most of Anita Prag’s credentials and details concerning her practice can be found on her website.

There are a few things she does make clear concerning how she approaches each different child or adolescent patient she treats. Anita will spend a great deal of time doing a thorough intake with the child, asking all the relevant questions concerning the child’s current psychological and emotional state and their history. In most cases Anita will request to meet up with the primary figures in the child’s life, teachers, parents, grandparent, anyone of importance that can provide additional insights into the child’s background and current emotional difficulties.  Our children are the most important things to us and when they suffer, we suffer. Choosing the best person to nurse your child through turbulent times is not easy but Anita Prag is one southern suburbs psychologist that is well worth your time and effort in meeting with.

The Right Psychology for Recovering Addicts

Dealing children and adolescents and their psychiatric problems, we can make progress with regular contact with our patients, developing trust between ourselves and the youngsters and allowing them to feel unashamedly honest. We gradually make progress with these kids, identifying issues as the therapeutic process moves forward. It is common to identify some patients who exhibit bipolar or borderline personality disorders.

psychiatric treatment

Unfortunately once these youngster grow up, many of them are tempted by pier groups and society to try alcohol and substances. In fact it is well know that many people who suffer from substance addiction are in fact undiagnosed bipolar, adhd or borderline personalities that have been trying find relief through self medicating themselves with narcotics or prescription drugs. Without intervention these youths will continue with their use of substances as means of trying to feel better. What many of the youngsters fail to understand is the risk they are taking by using illegal street drugs if they are already taking some form of prescription medication for a psychiatric disorder. The combination of the two will either make the psychiatric symptoms worse, or nullify the effects of the prescribed medication. Invariably these youngster, if they are lucky, will end up in a rehabiliation centre to help them get a better understanding of why they are drawn to escapism of drug or alcohol abuse. Most medical aid schemes will only cover the basic twenty eight day treatment program that just touches the surface of begining a new life in recovery, free of the urge to self medicate. The first few weeks after a patients leaves a drug rehabilitation centre or psychiatric centre are critical to the success of that patients recovery. Many patients have no choice to return to abusive homes with alcoholic parents, siblings who use drugs at home in neighbourhoods that overlook this behaviour. There are a few other options. Over the past few years, more and more “sober houses” have been started. A sober living house, is a safe house where someone who is comitted to staying abstinent and maintaing their recovery can go an live for a period of time until they are well adjusted to sober live. Scotswood Sober House Cape Town is one such sober house in Cape Town. The facility was recently set up to cater for people leaving treatment centres that require a safe and substance free environment that will encourage and motivate them to continue forward on their recovery path. Typically, a sober house will have a communal kitchen, weekly meetings of the residents, an on site counsellor, cooked meals and a healthy routine that encourages participation of the residents. Scotswood offers all of this and more. It has WiFi, beautiful gardens, the house is serviced three times a week and there is also a lovely swimming pool and safe off street parking for residents. It might be new, but Scotswood is certainly one of the nicest sober houses in Cape Town. It is strongly urged that if you are leaving a treatment facility or psychiatric facility and are concerned about the home environment that you are returning to, that you consider a sober house in Cape Town, and put your recovery first.

Swizzle Stick Manufacturer Supports Child Psychiatry

The children of Southern Africa can never get enough support from generous donors and sponsors concerned with the psychiatric well being and health of children and adolescents in the region. Recently, local Cape Town business, The Sugar Crystal Company showed it’s support for the psychiatric centers that cater to the needs of emotionally disturbed children and adolescents in the Cape Metropolitan area. The company is based in the Montague Gardens industrial area and is involved in the rather unique process of manufacturing sugar swizzle sticks in South Africa. The business came into existence thirteen years ago, realizing that there was a gap in this niche market. After pioneering a secret process for mass producing rock candy and sugar swizzle sticks using state of the art equipment the company began expanding into the international export market. The business has grown to almost three times it’s original size in the past ten years, much of this owed to the hard work of partners Richard Morris and Gary Clarke. There were many times in the beginning when it looked like the end of the road, but somehow they managed to persevere and pull through the rough times. After beginning with standard natural flavored sugar swizzle sticks in a clear and amber (brown sugar) color range the company started expanding and diversifying its product range. The initial natural flavored swizzle stick range was aimed at the hospitality industry, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants. The new product range was quite different in that it was a flavored swizzle stick that was available in thirteen colors and flavors.

swizzle stick company

After focusing on the perfecting their formula and refining their manufacturing process, the South African company opened the sugar swizzle stick online store which enables customers to order their swizzle sticks and rock candy online via the website.

The Sugar Crystal Company has been extremely generous of its support of the child psychiatry services in Cape Town and outlying areas. Not only have they shown their interest in giving back to the local community by backing the local child psychiatry initiatives, but the company has also been involved in many other community development projects which aim to empower women in the communities. Next time you may stir your cup of coffee or tea with a sugar swizzle stick, think of the Sugar Crystal company and its commitment to improving the conditions of children through access to psychiatry.

The company currently employs over fifty African women, most of them mothers with children that depend on them for basic needs.

Drug Rehabilitation Centres in Cape Town

Children and adolescents in Cape Town and South Africa are not only psychologically damaged by the immediate  negative conditions in their homes and communities, but also through the widespread abuse of drugs and alcohol by family members and community members.  In some cases the children and adolescents themselves have already begun to experiment with drugs and harmful substances, perhaps in an attempt to self medicate the pre-existing psychological traumas they experience. People who suffer from addiction in what ever for it may manifest itself (alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex addiction, eating disorders) all show similar symptoms of addiction. That is the compulsive repeating of a behavior which promises reward, but ultimately destroys the addict. The addict is unable to stop repeating this cycle, regardless of the evidence to show that it is harmful to them and those close to them. The addict remains compelled to get that next drink, or next fix, even though they can see that their lives are falling apart, jobs lost, families torn apart.

rehabilitation centre cape town

Fortunately Cape Town is one of the leading cities in world when it comes to facilities geared towards and dedicated towards treating suffering addicts. The number of facilities offering treatment to those suffering from substance abuse has increased dramatically over the past few years. However not all the centres offer the same quality of service or specialize in the same fields. Pricing also varies a great deal from one treatment centre to the next.

A Cape Town, web based business called Rehab-Search.directory has started an online portal where a user could easily find detailed information, for example about drug rehabilitation centres in Cape Town.  Using the Rehab-Search.directory website, an addict looking for the best treatment for themselves, or a family member trying to find the treatment centre most suited to their loved one, is able to navigate the comprehensive directory which lists only the best addiction treatment facilities and drug rehabilitation centres. Rehab-Search.directory makes it easier for the person searching for help to find the centre which is best equipped to deal with their specific form of addiction or disorder. The website has a fresh clean layout and is simple to navigate. Whether you’re looking for centres that specialize in addiction, behavioral health, specialty centres dealing with ADHD and OCD, Eating Disorder Centres, Healing Centres, Integrative Health Centres or Halfway Houses and Sober Living Facilities, Rehab-Search.directory has got you covered.  They can also offer you assistance in finding the best Multi-professional Counseling Centres, Multi-professional Psychological Groups, Outpatient Rehab Programs, Psychiatric Clinics and Testing Services.

drug rehabilitation centre cape town

Taking that first step and reaching out, asking for help can be scary and quite daunting. Rehab-Search.directory has made it extremely easy to find the right service for you or your loved one by placing all of the best facilities available in one easy to find directory. The facilities are then carefully categorized into their various areas of proficiency to make your search even easier.