CHAPTER 34:02
MENTAL TREATMENT

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

   SECTION

   1.   Short title

   2.   Interpretation

PART I
RECEPTION OF PERSONS IN A MENTAL HOSPITAL

   3.   Reception into a mental hospital

PART II
VISITING COMMITTEE

   4.   Appointment of visiting committees

   5.   Duty of visitors

PART III
VOLUNTARY PATIENTS

   6.   Power to receive voluntary patients

   7.   Notification of reception or death or departure of voluntary patient to visiting committee

   8.   Voluntary patient not to be detained for more than forty days

PART IV
TEMPORARY TREATMENT WITHOUT RECEPTION ORDER

   9.   Provision for temporary treatment without certificate of certain persons

   10.   Minister’s powers of discharge

PART V
RECEPTION ORDERS

   11.   Application for reception order

   12.   Application by whom to be presented

   13.   Procedure upon petition for reception order

   14.   Detention of person alleged to be of unsound mind pending inquiry

   15.   Consideration of petition

   16.   Order

   17.   Powers and duties of police in respect of wandering or dangerous persons of unsound mind and such persons cruelly treated or not under proper care and control

   18.   Duty of custodian of person of unsound mind

   19.   Power of magistrate

   20.   Reception order in case of wandering and dangerous persons

   21.   Detention of person alleged to be of unsound mind pending report by medical practitioner

   22.   Issue of medical certificates

   23.   Detention of person alleged to be of unsound mind pending removal to mental hospital

   24.   Power to summon custodian of person suffering from mental disorder

   25.   Time and manner of medical examination of person

   26.   Authority for reception

   27.   Power to order detention outside jurisdiction

PART VI
DISCHARGE OF PATIENTS FROM, AND TRANSFERS TO, MENTAL HOSPITALS

   28.   Order of discharge from mental hospital

   29.   Order of discharge to an approved institution

   30.   Appointment and report of medical inspector

   31.   Order of discharge and undertaking of relative for due care of the person of unsound mind

   32.   Transfer of patients

PART VII
JUDICIAL POWER OVER PERSONS AND ESTATES OF PERSONS OF UNSOUND MIND OR IN A MENTAL HOSPITAL

   33.   Safe-keeping and management of estates of persons in mental hospitals

   34.   Power of manager in respect of estate

   35.   Power to make order concerning any matter connected with the person

   36.   Power to apply property for maintenance of person of unsound mind without appointing manager in certain cases

   37.   Powers of Court in regard to property of person where no manager is appointed

   38.   Power to order transfer of property of person of unsound mind residing out of Malawi

   39.   Execution of conveyances and powers by manager under order of Court

   40.   Carrying on business of person of unsound mind

   41.   (1) Managers to furnish inventory and annual accounts

      (3) Removal of managers and guardians

   42.   Termination of appointment of manager

   43.   Proceedings to cease or to be set aside if Court finds that the unsoundness of mind has ceased

   44.   Examination of females

   45.   Court procedure

PART VIII
SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO MAINTENANCE

   46.   Application of property in the possession of a person of unsound mind found wandering

   47.   Application to civil court for order for the payment of cost of maintenance out of the estate of the person of unsound mind

   48.   Certain maintenance costs to be met from public funds

   49.   Saving of liability of relatives to maintain person of unsound mind

   50.   Pension of person of unsound mind payable by Government

PART IX
GENERAL

   51.   Inquests on patients

   52.   Death of person discharged to approved institution or breach of a condition by such person to be reported

   53.   Letters of patients

   54.   Power to refuse accommodation at mental hospital

   55.   No liability in respect of act done in good faith in pursuance of this Act

   56.   Who may not give certificates

   57.   Amendment of order or certification

   58.   Person received into mental hospital to be detained until discharged

PART X
OFFENCES

   59.   Persons other than medical practitioner signing certificate

   60.   False certificates

   61.   Escape of person of unsound mind

   62.   Permitting patient to quit mental hospital unlawfully

   63.   Ill-treatment of persons in mental hospital

   64.   Dealings with patients

   65.   Prohibition on publishing names of parties

   66.   General penalty

PART XI
RULE MAKING POWERS

   67.   Rules

PART XII
SAVING

   68.   Saving

14 of 1948
41 of 1953
30 of 1969
G.N.186/1954(F)
101/1956(F)
224/1963
219/1964(N)
166/1967

   An Act to make provision for the care of persons who are suffering from mental disorder or mental defect, for the custody of their persons and the management of their estates, and for the management and control of mental hospitals in Malawi

[29TH JULY 1948]

1.   Short title

   This Act may be cited as the Mental Treatment Act.

2.   Interpretation

   In this Act unless the context otherwise requires—

   “approved institution” means an institution declared by the Minister to be an approved institution under section 29;

   “Court” means the High Court;

   “magistrate” means a Resident Magistrate or a magistrate of the first or second grade;

   “manager” means any person appointed under section 33;

   “medical practitioner” means any medical practitioner who is registered or licensed as such under any law in force in Malawi governing the registration of medical practitioners;

   “mental hospital” means any hospital or other place which has been authorized, or may hereafter be authorized by the Minister as a place for the reception, detention and treatment of two or more persons who are suffering from mental disorder or mental defect;

   “person in charge” means any person appointed or approved by the Minister to be in charge of a mental hospital;

   “person of unsound mind” means any person who has been so found under Part V or Part VII;

   “reception order” means an order made under Part V or Part VII;

   “visiting committee” means a committee of visitors to a mental hospital appointed under section 4.

PART I
RECEPTION OF PERSONS IN A MENTAL HOSPITAL

3.   Reception into a mental hospital

   Subject to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code relating to persons found unfit to plead or not guilty by reason of insanity, no person shall be received, or detained for treatment in a mental hospital except under and in accordance with this Act.

PART II
VISITING COMMITTEE

4.   Appointment of visiting committees

   The Minister shall appoint for every mental hospital a visiting committee which shall consist of not less than two male visitors and one female visitor, one of whom at least shall be a medical practitioner.

5.   Duty of visitors

   (1) Two or more of the visitors, one of whom shall be a medical practitioner, shall, once at least in every month, inspect every part of the mental hospital of which they are visitors, and see and examine, as far as circumstances will permit, every patient therein, and the authority for the admission of every patient admitted since the last visitation of the visitors, and shall record in a minute book to be kept for that purpose any resolutions or remarks which they may deem proper to make in regard to the management and condition of the mental hospital and the patients therein.

   (2) Any of the members of the visiting committee shall be at liberty to call at and inspect the mental hospital or any portion of it, at any hour of the day or night they or any of them shall deem proper, and shall see and examine any patient, if they shall think fit.

   (3) A copy of all entries made in the minute book shall be made and forwarded monthly to the Minister.

PART III
VOLUNTARY PATIENTS

6.   Power to receive voluntary patients

   (1) Any person who has attained the age of sixteen years or more who is desirous of voluntarily submitting himself to treatment for mental disorder or mental defect and who makes a written application in the form prescribed for the purpose, accompanied by a medical recommendation, to the person in charge may, without a reception order, be received as a voluntary patient into a mental hospital.

   (2) Any person under the age of sixteen years whose parent or guardian is desirous of submitting him to treatment for mental disorder or mental defect may, if the parent or guardian makes to the person in charge of a mental hospital an application in the form prescribed for the purpose, accompanied by a medical recommendation, be received as a voluntary patient under this section, but such a person shall not be so received on his own application.

   (3) The medical recommendation referred to in the preceding subsections shall—

   (a)   be signed by a medical practitioner, who shall be either the usual medical attendant of the patient to whom the application relates, or a medical practitioner who has been approved for the purpose of making such a recommendation by the Minister; and

   (b)   state the qualifications of the medical practitioner, the date or dates on which he examined the said patient and that the said patient is likely to be benefited by being received as a voluntary patient for treatment under this section.

   (4) A medical recommendation shall cease to have effect for the purposes of this section upon the expiration of fourteen days from the last date on which the patient to whom the recommendation relates was examined by the medical practitioner for the purpose of making the recommendation.

   (5) Any person received as a voluntary patient under this section may leave the mental hospital upon giving to the person in charge seventy-two hours’ notice in writing of his intention to do so, or, if he is a person under the age of sixteen, upon such notice being given by his parent or guardian.

   (6) For the purposes of this Part, the expression “guardian” in relation to a person under the age of sixteen includes any person having the charge of the person under sixteen.

7.   Notification of reception or death or departure of voluntary patient to visiting committee

   Where a person is received into a mental hospital as a voluntary patient under section 6, or where a person so received dies in or departs from a mental hospital, information of his reception, death, or departure shall be given by the person in charge to the visiting committee at their next meeting.

8.   Voluntary patient not to be detained for more than forty days

   (1) If any person received into a mental hospital as a voluntary patient under section 6 becomes at any time incapable of expressing himself as willing or unwilling to continue to receive treatment, he shall not be retained as a voluntary patient for a longer period than forty days thereafter, and shall be discharged on or before the expiration of that period, unless, in the meantime, he has again become capable of so expressing himself, or an application has been made under section 9 or a reception order has been made under Part V or Part VII.

   (2) If a patient who is under the age of sixteen and who has been received as aforesaid ceases to have any parent or guardian, or if his parents or guardians are incapable of performing, or refuse or persistently neglect, to perform their duty as such, the person in charge shall inform the visiting committee at its next meeting of the circumstances of the case and the condition of the voluntary patient, and the visiting committee shall forthwith consider the report and give such directions for the retention or discharge of such patient as they may think fit.

PART IV
TEMPORARY TREATMENT WITHOUT RECEPTION ORDER

9.   Provision for temporary treatment without certificate of certain persons

   (1) Subject to this section, a person who is suffering from mental disorder or mental defect and is likely to benefit by temporary treatment in a mental hospital but is for the time being incapable of expressing himself as willing or unwilling to receive such treatment may, on a written application duly made in accordance with this section but without a reception order, be received into a mental hospital as a temporary patient for the purpose of treatment.

   (2) An application under this section shall be made in the form prescribed, to the person in charge of the mental hospital and shall, if possible, be made by the husband or wife, or by a relative of the person to whom it relates; and, if the application is not so made, it shall contain a statement of the reason why it is not so made, of the connexion of the applicant with the person to whom it relates and of the circumstances in which he makes the application.

   (3) The application shall be accompanied by a recommendation in the form prescribed signed by a medical practitioner who shall be either the usual medical attendant of the person to whom the application relates, or a medical practitioner who has been approved by the Minister for the purpose of making such a recommendation.

   (4) The medical practitioner by whom a recommendation under this section is to be made shall, before signing the recommendation, examine the person to whom the recommendation relates and shall specify in the recommendation the date or dates on which he so examined the said person and the grounds on which he bases his recommendation.

   (5) A recommendation shall cease to have effect on the expiration of fourteen days from the last date on which the person to whom the recommendation relates was examined by the medical practitioner.

   (6) A person received as a temporary patient into a mental hospital may be detained therein for a period not exceeding twelve months but shall not be detained as such for any longer period.

   (7) If a person who has been received as a temporary patient becomes capable of expressing himself as willing or unwilling to continue to receive treatment, he shall not be detained for more than forty days thereafter unless, in the meantime, he has again become incapable of so expressing himself, or an application has been duly made by him under section 6, or a reception order has been made under Part V or Part VII.

   (8) Where a person has been received into a mental hospital as a temporary patient under subsection (7), or if a patient so received dies in or departs from the mental hospital, information of the reception, death, or departure shall be given by the person in charge to the visiting committee at their next meeting.

10.   Minister’s powers of discharge

   When any person has been received into a mental hospital under Part III or this Part the Minister may at any time order that any such person shall be discharged, or otherwise dealt with under this Act.

PART V
RECEPTION ORDERS

11.   Application for reception order

   (1) An application for a reception order shall be made by petition accompanied by a statement of particulars to the magistrate within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the person alleged to be of unsound mind ordinarily resides, shall be in the form prescribed and shall be supported by a certificate from a medical practitioner.

   (2) If the medical certificate is signed by any relative, partner or assistant of the person alleged to be of unsound mind or of the petitioner, the petition shall state the fact, and, where the person signing is a relative the exact manner in which he is related to the person of unsound mind or the petitioner.

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