Health Minister Reaffirms Commitment to Tackling Mental Disorders in Nigeria

Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole
Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole

ABUJA – (Federal Ministry of Health Report) – The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi has reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government towards reducing cases of mental disorder in Nigeria.

The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Mfon Bassey made this statement during the opening ceremony of ‘Mental Health Action Committee and Stakeholders Workshop’ held in Abuja recently.

Abdullaziz Abdullahi said that the country’s high burden of mental disorders is due to the inadequate attention paid to mental illnesses, misconceptions and lack of awareness on the part of the Nigeria populace. He regretted that more people would be disabled by psychological challenges than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents and wars combined by the year 2020.

He further postulated that an estimated 20% – 30% of in Nigeria population are believed to suffer from mental disorders. Adding, this is a very significant number considering Nigeria as a country with an estimated population of over 200 Million. He observed that unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate.

“A policy for mental health services delivery was developed with several key provisions of the policy, including establishing a body at the Federal Ministry of Health to focus on mental health issues,” he revealed.

He also noted that some of the pertinent issues to be considered by the policy were: how to dialogue with stakeholders on the burden of mental health, intimate them on the Mental Health Policy, identify ways to fast-track the enactment of the Mental Health Policy as well as the resuscitation of the National Mental Health Action Committee for the coordination of stakeholders’ activities on mental health and psychosocial supports in Nigeria.

In her welcome address at the ceremony, the Director of Public Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Evelyn Ngige (Dr) represented by the National Coordinator of Non – Communicable Diseases, Nnenna Ezeigwe (Dr) appreciated the Mental Health Action Committee, World Health Organisation and Developmental Partners for their commitment and support.

Also remarking at the event, Alex Mpazange (Dr), who is the WHO Leader on Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases Intervention lamented the status of Nigeria’s high mental health disorders, saying people with severe mental disorders – moderate to severe depression, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders generally have a life expectancy of 10-20 years shorter than the general population.