Parliament Adopts Motion To Urge Government To Increase Funding For Mental Health
MPs have adopted a motion, urging the government increase funding for mental hemp has adopted motion, urging the government to increase funding for mental and psychiatric care services in the country.
The motion, which also called for prioritization and improvement of mental health and psychiatric care in Uganda was moved by Hon. Aisha Kabanda (NUP, Butambala district) during plenary sitting on Tuesday, 27 September 2022.
Kabanda said that the one percent of the budget for the 2022/2023 Financial Year appropriated towards mental health means insufficient drugs and poor care for the 14 million people with mental disorders.
“We are worried that cases will increase. The budget of the Ministry of Health alone is not enough. Mental health services should be mainstreamed into all sectors,” she said.
She also called for more training and recruitment of psychiatric doctors, saying that the current 42 are not enough.
“Children between 15 and 19 years are now more affected by mental illness and the majority are in schools. Their mental illnesses are not detected early. This calls for early detection. Children are increasingly committing suicide,” she said.
The government was also asked to return the mental health facilities that were converted into Covid-19 treatment units to their original use.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, said that mental health issues require urgent attention from the government, and urged lawmakers to give the issue due attention.
“We need to take this as a serious case and that it is well funded. This needs to stand out so that the Minister of Health gives us a statement on mental health infrastructure and support. We can identify money in the budget,” said Tayebwa.
He said that the intervention can start at the level of Health Centre IV, saying that these should be considered in the quest to address mental health funding.
Hon. Geofrey Macho (IND., Busia Municipality) called for the upgrade of the Mental Health Unit in Mulago National Referral Hospital to a department, saying that this will improve treatment and care of mental health patients.
“Mental health should be mainstreamed in all health units and all health workers should receive training and counseling,” he said.
Macho also called for free distribution of drugs to the mentally ill, saying that the medicines are expensive and inaccessible.
UPDF representative, Jennifer Alanyo called for the recruitment of psychiatric nurses in schools to enable early detection.
“Substance and alcohol abuse is practiced in schools. Early detection can be done by psychiatric nurses,” said Alanyo.
Hon. Herbert Ariko (NRM, Soroti East Division) pointed out the need to equip health institutions to train mental health specialists.
“Currently, we only have two qualified examiners of psychiatric specialists and they have retired. Mental health trainers are not available. We need to equip institutions to train people,” he said.
Bugiri Municipality MP, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa wondered why public institutions that train mental health specialists are expensive, arguing that this affects the number of specialists in the country.
Macho we should be by giving the ministry enough staff,” as I talk now the mental unit at the health ministry has only two staff looking after almost four mental health issues.
Yumbe Woman representative Melisa Avako Gule one of the seconders of the motion said that the treatment gap for mental health is 85% which means only 15% receive treatment in the country because of underfunding.
The chairperson of the parliamentary committee on defense and internal affairs, Rosemary Nyakikongoro , disclosed that during the tours to prisons around the country by the committee, mental health was one of the key concerns raised by the prison’s officers.