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CMD decries burden of abandoned mentally-ill patients in FNH

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Chief Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Dr Monday Igwe, has decried burden of abandoned mentally-ill patients by families and caregivers in the hospital.

Igwe disclosed this in an address during a lecture to commemorate 2020 World Mental Health Day held at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu on Monday.

According to him, the burden of abandoned patients is alarming and the hospital has limited resources and yet cannot turn her gates to our people in such state.

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“We call on all stakeholders to partner with us for the sake of humanity and service to God.

“We have a vision to make the hospital a centre of excellence in mental health care, research and training.

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“The management and staff are doing our best to offer the best of mental healthcare to our people but we need collaboration from friends and Non Government Organisation (NGO),’’ he said.

The CMD also called on government at all levels, NGOs, philanthropists and everyone, for the sake of humanity, to invest in mental healthcare.

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“Presently there is eight Federal Government funded psychiatric hospital in Nigeria, about 350 psychiatrists in the country taking care of the teeming population of 200 million Nigerians. This is grossly inadequate.

“Also, most state governments have no psychiatric facilities or mental health personnel in their employ; and where there are facilities, they are sited in towns and people in the rural areas do not have access to,’’ he said.

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Igwe also noted the shortage of mental health doctors and other specialised personnel as well as a high migration of mental health professionals outside the country.

“There is a need to build more mental health facilities, train personnel and provide working materials as well as better remuneration to reduce migration of professionals to foreign countries as their services are even more needed in Nigeria,’’ he appealed.

In a welcome address, the Chairman of Board of the hospital, Alhaji Shaban Shuaibu, appreciated God for another mental health day celebration; while commending people of all works of life for attending to the lecture.

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Dr Paul Odinka, who lectured on this year’s World Mental Health Day theme;“Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access’’, said that no one was immune from mental illness and it could occur without prior notice.

Odinka, who is a Consultant Psychiatrist at University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, noted that the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and its attendant retrogressive economic consequences, was inducing stress, anxiety and depression leading to mental illness.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic; there has been increase in mental health illness among people globally even in Nigeria. This means that there is need for more investment and attention to mental health needs.

“There is a need to put mental health funding in the Universal Health Coverage by government at all levels in order shoulder the huge cost of mental health on individuals and families that will help to alleviate poverty among the people.

“There should be mechanism put in place to increase access to mental health facilities throughout the country especially for the downtrodden and rural people,’’ Odinka, who is the guest lecturer, said.

Over 200 people from all works of life including staff of the hospital attended the lecture.

The UN through the World Health Organisation has set-aside every Oct. 10 as World Mental Health Day in order to create awareness on issues affecting effective mental healthcare access and treatment.

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