KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Ministry of Health has asked parliament to fast-track an immediate release of shs1bn out of the requested sh100bn for conducting a national survey on the mental health status of Ugandans.
Dr Hafsa Lukwata, the assistant commissioner for mental health, alcohol, and substance abuse said this during a stakeholders’ meeting organized by Strong Minds Uganda in Kampala on Friday saying the funds once availed will enable her department to undertake a study on the prevalence of mental illness among different categories of Ugandans.
“We need over Shs100b to do our work but for the start, we request you to avail us with Shs1b such that we can undertake a study on the prevalence of mental illness among different categories of Ugandans,” Dr Hafsa said.
According to Dr Lukwata, part of the requested funds will be spent on a national mental health awareness campaign that will not only help Ugandans understand the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses but also know where to access timely medical care.
“If we had concrete statistics on the state of mental health of different groups of people in Uganda, we would prevent some of the gruesome murders we are currently witnessing,” she added.
Responding to Dr Hafsa’s request, Jinja West Member of Parliament, Dr Timothy Batuwa said they would move a motion in Parliament over the same so that the release of Shs1b is manifested as a parliamentary decision.
“No one is safe. We must support the ministry so that it can under this study. We must screen all bodyguards among other people because no one is safe,” Dr Batuwa said.
Ms Charlotte Oloya, Head of Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy at Strong Minds Uganda said the distresses caused by Covid-19 and associated lockdowns exacerbated the mental illness situation in Uganda.
According to the National Institute for Health Research, about 35 per cent of Ugandans suffer from a mental disorder and 15 per cent of them require treatment.
There has been a 15 per cent rise in the cases of mental health conditions in the country following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate.
The Ministry of Health also estimates that at least 14 million people in Uganda have mental disorders.
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