Mental Health Agency for Gambia soon
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The anchor of this column over the weekend engaged Dr Cherno Bah, founder of The Gambia Mental Health Agency in an exclusive chat to detail the significance of the Agency and what opted its establishment. The mental agency is yet to officially begin operation but preparations to that end are at an advanced stage. It is expected to start operating soon.
The organisation according to Dr Bah was established in 2011 with the aim of complementing government’s efforts, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to improve access to quality mental health services for all Gambians. He further said GAMHAis a charitable organization and at the moment they are working on signing a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, whichwhen finalized, the organization will start working legally as a body.
Speaking on the need for such an institution, Dr Bah noted
that the World Health Neuropsychiatric conditions comprise 14% of the global
burden of disease and 30% of all non communicable diseases. As such, the Agency
seeks to collaborate with government departments, NGOs, individuals and the
private sector to deal with mental health issues.
He went on to point out that GAMHA’s priority area is to establish
a national mental health resource centre. The centre, he said, will provide
information, give advice and support to patients, their families and carers.
“It would also provide support to and relieve the suffering of persons
experiencing mental illness and distress. It will further seek to improve
societal awareness on mental health issues,” he added.
Dr Bah also asserted that the development of a mental health
act for The Gambia, as in line with international conventions on human rights,
provision of appropriate mental health training and development programmes for
health and social care practitioners and public campaigns to raise awareness of
mental health issues would also be their major focus.
“GAMHA will use recovery based and internationally recognised practice and approaches to the support of individuals experiencing mental distress. Its practice will be informed by key policy and practical guideline documents as published by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare”, he revealed.
Author: Momodou Faal