The government is set to construct an ultra-modern national mental health hospital as part of efforts aimed at addressing the increasing cases of mental illnesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday issued an executive order establishing the facility and elevating Mathari Mental Referral hospital in Mathare into a semi-autonomous specialised hospital.
The East Africa’s Premier Mental Health Facility will now offer training and research in psychiatry, specialized psychiatric services, forensic psychiatric services, child and adolescent mental services and substance abuse related and addictive disorders treatment and rehabilitation services.
Making the announcement during this year’s State of the Nation address to parliament, the President said a special office to spearhead the national response to the latest disruption of national social order through policies related to mental health had been set up in the ministry of health.
He said the team would institutionalise the initiative and urged the lawmakers to prioritise health policies by supporting the project.
The head of state decried the national distress and family anguish caused by the pandemic.
He said the country was inching closer to rolling out the Universal Health Coverage across the country following a successful pilot programme in selected counties.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the urgent need to upscale UHC…No Kenyan should be forced to sell their land to settle medical bills …The pilot for UHC was successful and out of it we have isolated learning points as we roll out nationally” he said.
A moment of silence for Covid-19 victims
He pointed out the challenges posed by the pandemic while assuring that the Government had put in place a series of public health measures, to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“We must not succumb to COVID fatigue. We must not ‘back truck’ from our vigilant fight against this pandemic. On our part as leaders, our stamina for discipline must not diminish. If the people fall short of giving their best at this time, we the leaders have no option but to give our all. We must “…know the way, go the way, and show the way” he pleaded with the leaders.
He stated that the state of the nation was strong despite the challenges and hailed Kenyans for remaining resilient.
“I wish from the onset to assure you that the State of our Nation is STRONG, RESILIENT and BRIMMING WITH THE PROMISE OF AN EVEN BRIGHTER TOMORROW” he told Parliament.
Earlier, President Kenyatta led the lawmakers from both houses in observing a moment of silence in honour of those who have succumbed to the disease since March when the first case was confirmed.
“Mr. Speaker and Hon. Members of our August Houses of Parliament, I now request all of you to rise on your feet and join me in observing a minute of silence in honour and in memory of the 1,203 Kenyans, who have succumbed to the deadly disease” he told the house.
“Despite these commendable efforts, as of this morning, we have reported a total of 66,723 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in our Country and sadly also a total of 1,203 deaths since this tragedy fell upon us, out of which 23 persons succumbed to the disease over the last 24 hours” he disclosed.
He further commended frontline health workers for their dedication and exemplified service under tremendous strain and challenging conditions.
“We also recognize and honour all our other first responders, frontline staff and essential workers; who have selflessly gone, above and beyond, the call of duty and ensured that the Kenyan Flame continued to burn bright” he emphasised.