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Expert  Calls For Inclusion Of Traditional Mental Health Healers In Mental Health Act 2023 Amendment

Daud Olatunji

In a groundbreaking address at the 46th inaugural lecture of Babcock University, Professor Titilayo Aderibigbe, a distinguished professor of medical law, passionately advocated  the amendment of the Mental Health Act 2023 to integrate traditional mental health healers into the nation’s healthcare system.

In her lecture titled “Engagement with the Human Body: Searching Through the Prism of Law to Shape the Future,” Professor Aderibigbe underscored the critical need to expand and enhance the nation’s healthcare system by recognizing the substantial contribution of traditional mental healers, who reportedly provide approximately 80 percent of healthcare services in Nigeria.

While acknowledging the Mental Health Act’s noble intention to safeguard individuals with mental health conditions from abuse, violence, and torture, Professor Aderibigbe pointed out its failure to incorporate traditional healers. 

She emphasized that these healers often deliver therapies aligned with cultural belief systems, urging the Nigerian government to consider their inclusion through a carefully vetted process aimed at improving the overall healthcare landscape.

Addressing another pressing issue, Professor Aderibigbe emphasized the importance of providing better protection for adolescent victims of sexual abuse.

She proposed regular training and retraining for officers prosecuting rape cases to enhance their effectiveness. Commending the Lagos State government’s initiatives in handling gender-based abuse reports, she urged other states to establish dedicated offices for anonymous reporting of rape cases.

Highlighting the role of law in shaping society, Professor Aderibigbe urged Nigerian legislators to consult with educational institutions, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between the National Assembly and academia during the amendment of legislative frameworks.

In a noteworthy commentary on the broader societal context, Professor Aderibigbe cautioned against the promotion of programs that sexualize young men and women’s bodies in educational institutions.

 She commended Babcock University for its initiatives in engaging students regularly and fostering an environment that prioritizes healthy interactions and the development of essential skills.

 

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