CMD decries burden of abandoned mentally-ill patients in hospitals

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

Igwe spoke during a lecture to commemorate 2020 World Mental Health Day held at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu on Monday.

He said the burden of abandoned patients is alarming, adding that the hospital has limited resources, yet cannot lock its gates against people in such state.

“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.

“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 Organisations (NGOs) ,’’ Igwe said.

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

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

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

Igwe said there is 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 needed more in Nigeria,’’ he said.

In a welcome address, the Chairman of the Board of the hospital, Alhaji Shaban Shuaibu, thanked God for another mental health day celebration, and commended participants for attending the lecture.

Dr Paul Odinka, who lectured on the 2020 World Mental Health Day’s theme; ‘Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access,’ said that no one is immune from mental illness and it can occur without prior notice.

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

“With the COVID-19 pandemic; there has been increased in mental health illness among people globally, even in Nigeria.

“This means that there is a 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.

“There should be mechanisms put in place to increase access to mental health facilities throughout the country, especially for the downtrodden and rural people,’’ he said.

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.