Jan 29, 2009, 5:52 AM
Psychiatric nurses drawn from health facilities countrywide and American
International University in West Africa The Gambia (AIUWA) are currently
attending a five-day training of trainers’ workshop on common mental health
disorders and treatment at Tendaba Camp in Kiang Central District of Lower
The five-day training was organised by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the mental health Leadership and Advocacy Program (mhLAP).
In his remarks to commence the workshop, the Regional Principal Nursing Officer for Lower River Region (LRR), Basiru Drammeh, on behalf of his Regional Directorate, Momodou Lamin Manneh, said that in The Gambia, it is estimated that about 120,000 people have mental health disorder, but “only 3,000 people are receiving treatment on yearly basis”.
“This implies that most of the people with severe mental disorder in The Gambia are left without access to the treatment and we must all make efforts to reduce the situation,” Drammeh told Psychiatric nurses.
Drammeh informed participants that most of the time mental disorders go undetected or are wrongly attributed to supernatural forces or witchcraft thus coupled with lack of access to care, which can lead to devastating outcome for affected individuals and families.
For his part, country facilitator of mental health Leadership and Advocacy Program in The Gambia, Dawda Samba, said the mhLAP is a WHO collaboration advocacy project.
“The project is aimed at empowering individuals and groups to do self-advocacy and capacity building in mental health service delivery,” Samba said.
Key among the activities of mhLAP The Gambia, he went on, are the mass media and community advocacy programmes, advocates for policy and legislative development, support to mental health institutions, national and international trainings and workshops, support to the mentally ill, campaign against drug misuse and abuse, annual celebrations of World Mental Health Day (WMHD), among others.
The training is part of the process of implementing the Mental Health Gap Action Program Intervention Guide (mhGAP - IG) that The Gambia recently contextualised.
He commended the WHO Country Office through Momodou Gassama, Health Promotion and Communication Officer, The Gambia, for their contribution to the successful activity and outcome of the process.
According to Samba, the workshop is primarily aimed at training a cohort of health staff to subsequently serve as cascade/step-down trainers on the mhGAP IG Gambia.
He added that the process started with domesticating the WHO tool in December thus signed by the Minister of Health as a national treatment guide.
“All these processes are conducted with the full participation of the Ministry of Health,” Dawda Samba said, adding: “The expectation of the five-day training workshop is to provide community mental health care to those that need it.”
Health Promotion and Communication Officer at WHO office in The Gambia, Momodou Gassama, informed Psychiatric nurses that globally mental health is a neglected area.
He urged the nurses to make the best use of the opportunity during the five-day training by acquiring more knowledge on mental health, which could be utilised at their various institutions and the nation at large.Momodou Gassama of WHO called on the authorities concerned to invest more in mental health as they invest in malaria and other health-implicated areas.