The chairman, Mental Health Action Committee of the Federal Ministry of Health, Prof. Oye Gureje, has decried inadequate mental resources, especially in terms of specialists.
Gureje asserted that Nigeria has about one psychiatrist to one million people.
He feared that the country would not have enough specialists for a long time to come and called on the government to strategise and make use of the resources which are currently available in the country in order to meet the needs of the people.
Gureje stated this at the joint meeting of the Mental Health Action Committee (MHAC) and the National Mental Health Stakeholders, held yesterday in Abuja.
He said: “We do have a situation in the country where we do not have sufficient mental resources, especially in terms of specialists; we do not have anything close to what should. Let me give an example, Nigeria has a population of about 195million people and we have about 200 psychiatrists in the country; that is about one psychiatrist to a million people.
“In order parts of the world, especially Western Europe, we have about 10 psychiatrists to 100,000 people. It means that we are not going to be able to have sufficient specialists for a long time to come but that is not the problem. The issue is that we should use the resources that we have and there are ways in which that can be done.”
In his remarks, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, said in Nigeria, an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of the population are believed to suffer from mental disorders and lamented that the attention given to mental health disorders in the country is inadequate.
Represented by his senior technical assistant, Mr. Mfon Bassey, the permanent secretary said that mental health disorders are not uncommon, and the global burden is projected to reach 15 per cent by 2020.
WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said that the global body promotes Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mHGAP) launched in 2008 to help countries use evidence-based technical guidance, tools and training packages to expand service in non-specialist health facilities.