By Felix Oketcho
The Ministry of Health has launched Mental Health Act which will push the government to allocate more budget to regional hospitals in abid to provide sufficient mental health services to patients in dire need.
This was revealed at the celebration to mark this year’s Mental Health Day under the theme: ”Mental health for all, leave no one behind” at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala.
Currently, only Butabika Regional Referral Hospital provides mental health services in Uganda leaving lots of gaps in the country.
According to Dr.Julie Nakku the Executive Director of Butabika Hospital, Uganda prevalence of mental health is estimated at 10-30% amidst treatment gaps that stands at 85%.
Nakku asked the Ministry of Health to integrate mental health services into a universal health coverage package to enable patients to find care across communities.
“People should be able to access mental health care at any door. There should be information to empower communities to make choices and address legal laws,” she stressed.
Enoku Andrew who is Manager for Safer World Uganda Advocacy and Communications an independent international organisation working to prevent violent conflict and build safer lives hailed the government for launching the Mental Health Act but cautioned the Ministry of Health to implement the Act in place.
“As Safer World Uganda, we commend the Ministry of Health for coming up with the Mental health Act. We believe and hope to see more policy advancements in mental health service provisions especially in conflict areas of the society where there are high cases of mental health. With the Act in place now we hope to see more coverage and services extended to communities in dire need,” Enoku said.
A recent study from Strong Minds Uganda a non Governmental Organisation’s report indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an increase in persistent stress, anxiety and depression symptoms in low-income households in Uganda and Zambia.
“There is a rise in mental health distress resulting from increased unemployment, food insecurity, household violence and substance abuse stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report notes.