1 psychiatric doctor to a million Nigerians is alarming – Psychiatrists cry out

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President, of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Prof. Taiwo Obindo, says Nigeria currently has one qualified psychiatric doctor for about a million people.

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“This development has made accessibility and deliverability of psychiatric care relatively difficult in the country,’’ Obindo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Enugu.

He spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing 53rd Annual General and Scientific Meeting of psychiatric doctors in Nigeria.

Obindo said that up to two-thirds of well-trained and certified psychiatric doctors leave the country annually creating the negative situation at hand.

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“The standard is that one psychiatric doctor should take care of 10,000 patients; but today, we have one psychiatric doctor for more than one million Nigerians.

“As we speak now, we are having less than 250 certified psychiatric doctors throughout the country and more are leaving by the day,’’ he lamented.

Obindo called for the passage of the National Mental Health Bill as amended to ensure proper process and administration of mental health treatment and other issues such as adequate funding and remuneration of professionals.

“Mental healthcare should be incorporated into the primary healthcare system to cater to primary and secondary institutions treating mental health disorders in localities.

“Presently, the little budget meant for mental health treatment goes to tertiary medical institutions only.

“Mental health should be fully taken care of at Primary Healthcare Centres.

“Percolating mental healthcare to primary healthcare institutions will save Nigerians transportation, feeding and accommodation costs and the stress of conveying mentally-ill persons to urban centres where psychiatric hospitals could be found,’’ he said.

Obindo, who works at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital, noted that Nigerians entangled in current insecurity and forced displacements had continued to face psychological and psychiatric trauma and disorders.

He noted that governments and other organisations providing succour should go beyond food and shelter provisions to psychological and psychiatric care.

He said Nigeria should ensure that such people recovered from the shock of insecurity they witnessed.

“It is important that governments and other support groups give them special attention to meet their current challenging emotional, psychological and psychiatric needs so as not to fall into deeper depression or societal withdrawal,’’ he stressed.

In his contributions, Prof. Monday Igwe, Medical Director at the Federal Neuropsychiatric, Hospital, Enugu, said that insecurity was becoming a major cause of mental trauma and stress for some Nigerians.

Igwe, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the meeting, said that traumatic conditions caused by insecurity and forced displacements could further lead to psychological imbalance, depression and suicide.

“It is time we put the psychological and psychiatric needs of these people into serious consideration and ensure that they pass through their ordeal with renewed hope that tomorrow will be better,” he said.

The four-day meeting, which started on Wednesday, has: “Insecurity and forced displacement: Mental health and psychological implication” as its theme. (NAN)