Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mental illness weighs heavily on Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone 04/10 - Two opposition parties in Sierra Leone have criticised the government for performing "below average" after the health and sanitation ministry reported that 150,000 or 3% of the population suffered various degrees of mental illnesses.
Spokesperson of the opposition All People`s Congress Party (APC), MP Alpha Khanu described the number of mentally retarded Sierra Leoneans as "alarming and fearful. It is a cause for concern. It is unacceptable".
"It shows that the Health Ministry has not been doing anything significant to address the welfare of the citizenry of this country,. Khanu told a radio talk show here Sunday.
Up to date, Sierra Leone has only one psychiatry specialist, Dr. Edward Nahim, and no attempt has been made by the government to train more, but only depending on Nigerian and Cuban medical doctors through its South-South cooperation programme.
An executive member of the opposition People` Movement for Democratic (PMDC), Ansu Lansana said the "negligence and deceit openly displayed by the regime of the ruling party to allow 3% of its population to go mad and yet creating an impression as if all is well, is unpardonable and indictable."
After the war, the government received huge sums of money from the international community including European Union for post conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and trauma healing.
But "only reconstruction and rehabilitation of institutions which were poorly done are visible. These were done because of the kickbacks involved after the awarding of contracts to construction companies," the opposition charged.
They urged the government to double its efforts in ensuring that the toll of insane Sierra Leoneans realistically drops.
But government officials blamed the war for the high number of mentally ill persons on the streets, and lamented that the search for greener pastures have made matters by pulling most trained medical personnel out of the country.

Link to AngolaPress - News