Every third Pakistani mentally ill, say experts

October 09, 2010

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PESHAWAR: Psychiatrists here Friday expressed concern over the lack of resources for mental healthcare in the province and urged the government to take effective steps for improvement of the psychiatric facilities, particularly in the wake of rising wave of terrorism and devastation by floods.
They said the number of psychiatric patients has doubled in the terrorism and flood-affected areas where there was scarcity of mental health facilities. “The government must pay due attention to the issue and take proper measures for counselling and treatment of the psychiatric patients,” said Syed Mohammad Sultan, head of the Psychiatry Department at the Khyber Teaching Hospital while speaking at a press conference.
Flanked by psychiatrists Dr Mohammad Idrees and Dr Samina Ahmad, he announced that the World Mental Health Day would be observed in the country on October 10 under the aegis of the Pakistan Psychiatry Health Association to create awareness among the masses about the mental health problems.
The doctors said lack of awareness was one of the major reasons for most of the mental health problems. They said every third person in Pakistan was mentally ill and needed counselling. They added that every fifth person needed medication for psychiatric diseases in the country.
Dr Syed Sultan said budget allocation for the health sector was very small. “The total allocation for health sector was 3 per cent of the GDP, while only 0.4 per cent of it is specified for mental healthcare,” he pointed out. He said there were only 400 psychiatry specialists in the country and stressed the need for having experts in child and old age psychiatry.
He pointed out that according to World Health Organisation, there should be at least one psychiatrist for 10,000 people, but there was only one doctor for 0.4 million people in Pakistan. The psychiatrists said mental health facilities were confined to the big cities and needed to be expanded to tehsil level. They stressed the need for proper implementation of the Mental Health Act 2001. At the press conference, concern was expressed over the killing of Dr Mohammad Farooq Khan and it was announced that the seminar to be held on October 10 would be dedicated to the slain psychiatrist.

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