Zanzibar: Spirits and Psychiatry
Zanzibar is on the cusp of a mental health crisis. Following decades of substance abuse, rates of psychotic, neurological and psycho-social disorders have increased sharply. As the situation worsens, profiteering spiritual and traditional healers are reaping the benefit, charging extortionate rates to exorcise the evil spirits many believe have possessed their minds. For the island’s most vulnerable, they are the first – and often the last – port of call. But with so many turning to these methods of recovery, conventional medicine is struggling to cope, largely distrusted and poorly resourced. Nicola Kelly travels across the East African island to meet those suffering – and those who benefit.
(Photo: In Zanzibar, traditional healers treat the mentally ill. Credit to: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn)