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… urges government to allocate 20% health budget to mental health care
The Provost and Medical Director of Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro in Abeokuta, Dr. Afeez Agboola has lamented that many Nigerians lack access to quality and appropriate mental health service across the country.
The provost however called on the federal and state governments to invest heavily in mental health services so as to prevent heavy consequences on the citizens.
The provost who was represented by the Head of Clinical services, Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Lucky Onafa said this on Saturday while speaking at a press briefing held in commemoration of the year 2020 World Mental Health Day.
The provost warned that the social, health and economic consequences of not investing in mental health will be far-reaching considering the challenges facing the people due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. Agboola noted that there is a need for the government to invest both financially and humanly to the development of mental service delivery so as to reduce the burden.
The Medical Director lamented that COVID-19 pandemic which caused a lot of devastation has affected the mental health of many Nigerians.
He stressed that if the government does not put enough investment in mental health service, the problems will continue to be on the increase.
He said, “in view of the challenges we have in our country, now we see that mental health disorders, the factors that are responsible for causation are on the increase. Social, psychological problem, unemployment, violence, conflict, kidnapping; these problems are on the increase.
“If you go to the garages, substances disorder are on the high rise and you won’t be surprise that if we have all these in our garages, why won’t we have more cases of accidents on our road.
“If we do not put more investment in terms of financial investment, human resource and practical efforts, these problems will still be on the increase. That is why WHO has called every nation to increase the investment for mental health services.
“COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of devastation; a lot of people has lost their jobs, a lot of companies have folded up, so, there is a lot of problems. People have suffered from a lot of emotional reactions and in view of that, this has affected a lot of people.
“Because of all these affectation, the mental health of people have been affected and we will need a lot of investment. We need to invest in people that can help in managing this.”
The Medical Director however urged the government to dedicate 15 per cent of the national budget to health so that a larger percentage can go to the mental health care.
He adddd,”It was agreed in the African Union in 2001 that 15 per cent of the national budget should be devoted to health, I am not sure in any of the African countries, the budgetary allocation is up to 15 per cent for health.
“In Nigeria, we are still hovering between 4-5 per cent, this is a call for the federal government to increase the budget allocation for health and once that is done, the money that will spend on mental health will also increase.
“Beyond payment of salaries, we still need more allocation for research, integrative purposes, training of personnel.
“As far as our country is concerned, we have a about 200 Psychiatrists that is servicing the population of 200 million persons. We have a ratio of 4 Psychiatrists to a million persons and this inadequate because it was speculated that it should be 10 Psychiatrists to 100,000 population, but we are still far from that. One of the ways we can achieve that is to train more personnel.”