The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, has reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government towards reducing cases of mental disorder in Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Mfon Bassey, made this statement during the opening ceremony of Mental Health Action Committee and Stakeholders Workshop held in Abuja.
Abdullahi said the country’s high burden of mental disorders was due to inadequate attention paid to mental illnesses, misconceptions and lack of awareness on the part of the Nigeria public.
He regretted that more people would be disabled by psychological challenges than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents and wars combined by the year 2020.
He further said that in Nigeria, “an estimated 20 per cent to 30 per cent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders.
“This is a very significant number considering Nigeria with estimated population of over 200 million.
“Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate.
“A policy for mental health services delivery was developed with several key provisions of the policy, including establishing a body at the Federal Ministry of Health to focus on mental health issues.”
Abdullahi noted that some of the pertinent issues to be considered by the policy were: how to dialogue with stakeholders on the burden of mental health, intimate them on the Mental Health policy, identify ways to fast-track the enactment of the Mental Health as well as the resuscitation of the National Mental Health Action Committee for the coordination of stakeholders’ activities on mental health and psychosocial supports in Nigeria.
In her welcome address, the Director, Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, represented by the National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, appreciated the Mental Health Action Committee, World Health Organisation and Developmental Partners for their commitment and support.
In his remarks, Dr. Alex Mpazange ,WHO Lead on Communicable and Non- Communicable Diseases Intervention, also lamented Nigeria’ s high mental health disorders, saying: “People with severe mental disorders – moderate to severe depression, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders – generally have a life-expectancy 10 to 20 years shorter than general population.”