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Boko Haram: Borno, WHO release plan for growing mental illness

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Mukaila Ola


Borno State Government and World Health Organisation have released a mental health strategic framework implementation plan to combat the high rate of mental illnesses in the troubled state brought about by the decade old Boko Haram crisis.

Speaking during the release of the document on Wednesday in Maiduguri, the WHO Mental Health Specialist, Dr, Isaac Bwatin lamented that mental health disorders and psychological problems are often heightened in disasters and emergency situations.

He said: “The horrors, losses, and uncertainties experienced, as well as numerous other stressors related to these distresses, place people at greater risk of suffering from and being affected by mental health problems.”

He decried that: “The insurgent activities in Borno State, which is the worse hit has resulted in number of vulnerable populace developing mental health conditions and psychological problems in a context of a weak mental health system.”

The WHO specialist noted that: “Vulnerable populace with pre-exist mental health conditions and social problems for example indigent people with depression, psychosis or post-traumatic stress disorder find it difficult to access to evidence based mental health care.”

He said: “WHO has recognized that mental health is crucial to the overall well-being, functioning, and resilience of populations recovering from emergencies, and is committed to assisting the (Borno) state and Nigeria as a whole to strengthen mental health care.”

He said: “This insurgency in spite of its tragic nature and adverse effect on mental health, have created an unparalleled opportunity to build better mental health systems for all people in need. The surge of aid, combined with sudden, focused attention on mental health of the population, have created opportunities to transform mental health care for the long term.”

Also speaking at the launch, the Director, Emergency Medical Response and Humanitarian Services, Borno State Ministry of Health, Dr. Baba Shehu, in his opening remark, said: “The implementation plan became important because of the trauma people in Borno State have gone through in the last couple of years because of Boko Haram crisis.”

The WHO lamented that despite the global burden of mental disorders, health systems have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental disorders; as a consequence, the gap between the need for treatment and its provision is large all over the world,.

It said between 76 percent and 85 percent of the people with severe mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder in low-income and middle-income countries; the corresponding range for high-income countries is between 35 percent and 59 percent.

It lamented that a further compounding problem was the poor quality of care for those receiving treatment.



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