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Mental health services in Somalia fall short – WHO

The World Health Organization in Somalia is urging policymakers, international and national agencies and other civil society groups to scale up mental health services in the country. Picture: supplied by WHO

October 12, 2020

JOHANNESBURG – The World Health Organization in Somalia has urged policymakers, international and national agencies and other civil society groups to scale up mental health services in the country.

This request comes at a time when Somalis are faced with the triple threat of Covid-19, flooding and desert locusts in addition to regular health and socio-economic concerns.

According to estimates, one in every three Somalis is affected by a challenge related to their mental health, the WHO said in a statement dated Sunday.

However, there are only a few health facilities offering mental health services for a country of 15 million and just three psychiatrists and 25 trained nurses dealing with mental health.

“Only when communities have access to good health in a holistic manner, physically and emotionally, can we have a peaceful, progressive and productive society,” said WHO representative for Somalia Dr Mamunur Malik.

“We all need to join hands to ensure every Somali has access to mental health services, particularly psychosocial support at primary health-care level.”

Malik emphasised the inevitable health, economic and social costs that come with dismissing mental health problems. He explained that the burden of coping with diseases such as Covid-19 would only exacerbate the situation and result in more Somalis having to deal with unaddressed anxiety, stress and fear.

In Somalia, there is a need to stop the stigma and discrimination against people suffering from mental health challenges. There is also a need to put an end to violence and abuses orchestrated against those who face mental health problems, according to the WHO.

The global theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Move for Mental Health: Let’s Invest.”

In Somalia, in efforts to highlight the importance of ensuring mental health services are accessible by all, and to ensure that this becomes the norm for future generations, the country is commemorating the day with the theme “Investing in Mental Health is Investing in Somalia’s Future”.

The deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general and UN resident co-ordinator and humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, called for increasing development assistance from all humanitarian and development partners of Somalia to improve mental health services.

The WHO is urging all its partners and donors, including all UN agencies, to urgently scale up their support for mental health in the country and to break the cycle of neglect, lack of awareness, stigma and discrimination, which are often the drivers of poor mental health in any country.


African News Agency


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