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NEWS : Local News  

In Sierra Leone, Health Minister Launches Mental Health Care Plan
By Edward Tommy
Feb 7, 2014, 17:10
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The Minister of Health and Sanitation Hon. Miatta Kargbo has on Wednesday 5th February, at the Hill Valley Hotel, officially launched the National Mental Health Operation Plan for 2014. Minister Kargbo said revision of the Mental Health Strategic Plan in 2013 was followed by the preparation of an Annual Operational Plan for 2014 which is a step further in the governments efforts to commence implementation of the National Mental Health Policy which is aimed at integrating Mental Health into Primary and Community health care service in the country.

 

She said 13 to 15 percent of Sierra Leoneans are suffering from mental disorders, adding that over 400,000 Sierra Leoneans are presently suffering from mental disabilities but that only 2,000 are presently receiving treatment which amounted to 4.6%. She informed her audience that there is a huge treatment gap of over 99% in the countrys Mental Health Care Delivery System as a result of the protracted neglect in the area of treating mental illness. She frowned that this is very alarming.

 

Minister Kargbo went on to say that most of these mental disorders are treatable and preventable but that people are, for various reasons, failing to come out for treatment.  She furthered that in collaboration with partners, it is her ministrys vision to make available affordable, accessible sustainable and integrated high quality mental health care service for all Sierra Leoneans as there is now a mental health policy, strategic action plan and an operational plan in place to actualize that vision. She informed that, it is envisaged that with the timely commencement of the implementation of the operational plan, the mental health care delivery service will lead the country to attaining the vision and objectives as spelt out in the policy, which is to increase access to all and reduce the huge treatment gap in the Mental Health Care in the country.

 

With the limited resources, we are also fighting against other Non-Communicable Diseases so as to promote health issues in the country she stated and officially launched the action plan.


The World Health Organization representative Dr. Jacob Miufunda said an estimated one in four people globally will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, revealing that, mental health conditions are responsible for a great deal of mortality and disability, accounting for 8.8% and 16.6% of the total burden of diseases due to health conditions in low and middle income countries, respectively.

 

Depression, he went on, has been projected to, by 2030, be the second highest cause of disease burden in middle income countries and third highest in low income. Dr. Miufunda said for far too long people with mental health disorders do not receive any care, as the image of mental health illness is contaminated with images of violence, sin and laziness.

 

He furthered calls for the integration of mental health care into the primary health care system as advocated by the WHO, rehabilitate long stay mental hospital patients in communities, implement anti-stigma programmes for communities; initiation of  population based effective preventive interventions; and to ensure full  participation and integration of people with mental disorders within communities.

 

In his brief statement, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Childrens Affairs, Hon. Mustapha Bai Attila said Persons with Disabilities of which Mental Health victims are part of, need to be recognized so as to actualize pillars 3 and 6 of the Agenda for Prosperity which highlights government commitment in addressing the issue of Persons with Disabilities. He then called on all to stop stigmatizing Persons with Disabilities so to make Sierra Leone a disable friendly country, that will eventually enable disables to participate fully in national development.

 

Statements were also made by other partners in the health sector.


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