Government to set up modern psychiatric referral hospital

Written By: Christine Muchira

The government is planning to establish a state of the art psychiatric hospital in Nairobi County.

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The facility which will be supported by four regional satellite facilities will also serve as a teaching and referral hospital for all kinds of mental issues.

Speaking during the World Mental Health Day, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the government was working towards improving access to quality mental health care.

He disclosed that plans were underway to upgrade of Mathare Hospital which is the only psychiatric hospital in the country.

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He said the government is committed to the provision of appropriate medication for people with mental health needs under Universal Health Care -UHC program.

“We are working with partners in quality rights mental health initiative which focuses on human rights approach to mental health care for patients and caregivers,” said CS Kagwe.

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Adding that, “We are committed to work on public education to reduce stigma.”

On his part acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth, noted that the serious gaps that still exist in mental health are as a result of low investment over many decades calling for more  investments in mental health.

Suicide

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Close to one billion people have a mental disorder worldwide.

Dr Rashid Aman Chief Administrative Secretary Ministry of Health, weighed in on the matter saying anyone anywhere can be affected by mental disorder.

He noted that in Kenya the burden of mental illness is 25% among outpatients and 40% among inpatients adding that depression is the leading cause of illness and disability among adults and adolescents worldwide.

There are 1.9 million people living with depression in Kenya.

The CAS said that people with severe mental health issues such as schizophrenia tend to die 10 to 20 years earlier that the general population.

According to a survey, the prevalence of mental disorders in Kenya was found to be 38% with suicide being the second leading cause of deaths among young people in Kenya.

800,000 people die from suicide every year in Kenya.

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427 deaths that occured in Kenya in 2018 were attributed to suicide.

While acknowledging the importance of a mentally and physically healthy workforce for optimal productivity, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi noted that loss productivity resulting from depression anxiety and other mental health issues costs the global economy about 1 trillion dollar each year.

She regretted that most countries spend less than 2% of their national health budget on mental health with Kenya only using 0.01% of the total health budget on mental health.

World Mental Health day was celebrated amid the COVID-19 Pandemic that has affected people worldwide causing loss of jobs and livelihoods hence posing a risk of rising numbers of mental health disorders.

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