Why Nige­ria should pri­or­i­tize men­tal health poli­cies, ser­vices — Ex­pert

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Ojoma Akor

The state of men­tal health­care poli­cies and ser­vices in Nige­ria is a far cry from what it ought to be in the 21st cen­tury, a men­tal health ex­pert has re­vealed.

A chief con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist, Dr Olushola Ephraim-Oluwanuga made the dis­clo­sure yes­ter­day at the sec­ond ‘All things med­i­cal con­fer­ence and ex­hi­bi­tion’ or­gan­ised by Me­dia Trust in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other part­ners in Abuja.

She said there was still poor aware­ness about men­tal health, and stigma for suf­fer­ers in the coun­try.

Ephraim-Oluwanuga who is also the head of the depart­ment of psy­chi­a­try at the Na­tional Hospi­tal, Abuja said till date, Nige­ria does not have a pol­icy on men­tal health be­cause there is no health plan, and that it still uti­lizes ar­chaic laws on men­tal health.

While call­ing for re­view of the coun­try’s men­tal health laws, the ex­pert said there is presently no pol­icy on drug abuse. She said there was also no fund­ing for men­tal health ex­cept for funds pro­vided for psy­chi­atric hospi­tals.

The men­tal health ex­pert said Nige­ria suf­fers from se­ri­ous short­age of men­tal health work­ers, not­ing that there is less than one psy­chi­a­trist to a mil­lion Nige­ri­ans, and even fewer psy­chol­o­gists, and so­cial work­ers.

Pres­i­dent of the Van­guard Against Drug Abuse (Vgada) Dr. Hope Omeiza, called for at­ti­tu­di­nal change to­wards peo­ple who abuse drugs. He said it was not good for law en­force­ment agents to leave drugs ped­dlers and ha­rass drug users.

Dr Omeiza called for ado­les­cent friendly treat­ment pat­terns, and re­searches into causes of drug abuse. He added that over the past few decades, Nige­ria has emerged as a ma­jor drug traf­fick­ing hub.

Prof Emeje Martins, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of Nige­ria (PSN) at the event called on gov­ern­ment to in­vest more on re­search into drug abuse is­sues and other health chal­lenges in the coun­try. He ad­vised fam­i­lies to pay at­ten­tion to the care of their chil­dren and that youth should re­sist pres­sure from peers to do wrong.

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