Saturday, 13 December 2008

Maldives: A country crying out for a mental health legislature, plan and program

Did you know the following facts about the Maldivian mental health scenario?
There is a dearth of epidemiological data on mental illness in the Maldives as the mental health system of the country has largely been neglected and the only internationally available literature is in the WHO-AIMS report on mental health system in the Maldives, (WHO-AIMS, 2006). According to this report in the year of data collection, 1275.73 users per 100,000 population was treated in the only available outpatient facility in the country and out of this sample, 40 % were diagnosed with neurotic illness, 17% with mood disorder, 2 % with personality disorder, 8% with schizophrenia, 8 % with substance abuse disorder, 25 % of the diagnoses was specified only as “others”. According to this report, the percentage of prisoners with psychosis is 2 % and ‘prison has at least one prisoner per month in treatment contact with a mental health professional’ (WHO-AIMS, 2006).
Have a look at the mental health resources of Maldives

Mental health policy -----------------No
Substance abuse policy--------------Yes
National mental health program------No
Mental health legislation-------------No
National mental health budget--------No
Disability benefits-------------------Yes
NGO involvement-------------------Yes
Beds (per 10,000)-------------------0
Beds in mental hospitals-------------0
Beds in general hospitals-------------0
Beds (Others)------------------------0
Psychiatrists (per 100,000)---------0.36
Neurosurgeons----------------------0.36
Psychiatric nurse---------------------0
Neurologists--------------------------0
Psychologists-------------------------1.2
Social workers-------------------------0

Source: WHO, Mental Health Atlas, 2005

Maldives is a country burdened with mental health problems but it is ill equipped to deal with the problems it has. Every day, there are news reports of problems which directly reflect the neglected status of mental health issues of our country . But few people , if at all even connect problems such as increasing incidence of substance abuse and violence, juvenile delinquency, learning disabilities subsequent school refusals, school truancy, anti-social behaviours etc as mental health problems that require specific types of early interventions along with other programs.
It is definitely time for us to proactively deal with the multitude of issues which our country is faced with, specially in the field of mental health which is little understood by the people of our country.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

there is one mental health nurse. unfortunatey residing overseas and refusing to go back until the gov acts on policies and legislature.

jaa said...

Interesting! How does the figures stand compared to other South Asian countries?

naaz said...

jaa,
I will post the south asian scenario soon..

Anonymous said...

why is it taking the government so long to pass mental health laws?
I know someone who is trying develop mental health services in maldives but with its difficult when people don't want to change

Anonymous said...

I agree-last year i visited the only in patient psychiatric hospital in maldives. patients are given basic care by staff who are (through lack of training and guidance) ill equipped to deal with mental health needs.
Since the tsunami lots of overseas organisations have visited and provided training and offered advice, this is initially welcomed but once the organisations leave staff revert back to old habits and are not encouraged to develop. The person in charge of the hospital has no training in mental health field and no desire to learn so what example is this to staff? Mental health services will never develop and patients will always receive sub standard care if legislation is not passed to give them a voice.

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International Bipolar Foundation said...

We just received a plea for help in the Maldives but don't know where to refer him. Can you help? International Bipolar Foundation

Hafez said...

Hi Dr Aishath Ali naaz,

This is Dr Hafez Bajoghli, I am an Iranian psychiatrist. I am currently teaching mental health in Mahidol University of Thailand as a lecturer. I would like to come and practice in Maldives. I have much experiences in community mental health, practice of general psychiatry, and doing cross-cultural researches. I have already submitted my CV to Maldives Ministry of Health. I am impressed by your enthusiasm in mental health. I enjoyed your weblog. Shall I ask you to help me in finding a job position as a psychiatrist in Maldives? Thank you in advance.
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
My email address: hafezbajoghli@yahoo.com

Yours Sincerely
Hafez