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O País / Infulene Psychiatric Hospital, in Maputo
Studies in some African countries indicate that one in six patients seeking health care suffers from at least one type of mental, neurological or behavioural disorder. And in recent years, more than 150,000 people, representing about six percent of the total Mozambican population, have sought care from Mozambique’s psychiatric and mental health services.
The information was released at the International Conference on Innovative Mental Health Research in Maputo yesterday by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Zacarias Zindoga.
“Recently we have invested in training and increased the number of mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatry technicians. We are also working on expanding psychiatry and mental health services to all districts in the country, opening services for drug addicts, interventions for the mentally ill living on the streets, psychological interventions in crisis situations and calamities, and in implementing the ‘Reducing the Gap’ epilepsy treatment programme,” Zindonga said.
The head of the mental health department of the Ministry of Health, Lídia Gouveia, said that diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, affective disorders and problems related to the consumption of psychoactive substances are the most numerous in health units offering psychiatry and mental health services.
“Our actions focus on preventing these problems, so we work on community awareness to persuade families to take the patient to health units for diagnosis and treatment as soon as they see warning signs. Actions are also aimed at avoiding stigma. Many people fail to seek treatment because of the way society regards people who attend psychiatric clinics,” she said.
Participants including researchers from countries such as the United States, Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde and São Tomé discussed practical and effective ways of doing research in the area of mental health over the next five years.
For the president of the American Psychiatric Association, there is plenty of scope for research in mental health in Mozambique, but warns that the scarcity of resources must be taken into account.
“We can not waste the country’s resources on programmes that do not work. That is why it is important to do research to confirm that the Ministry’s programmes are worth it,” he said.
Currently, Mozambique has 13 psychiatrists to serve a population of approximately 26 million. Four more are in training.Source: O País
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