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Kisumu to spend Sh. 3 million to streamline mental health care

KNA     County Government of Kisumu has set aside Sh. 3 million to establish strong and functioning mental health care systems in the area.

The County Director of Public Health and Sanitation, Dr. Fredrick Oluoch, said the County is working towards stepping up investment in mental health care systems in 2021/2022 Financial Year, aimed at reforming the Sector.

“The County Health Department will spend some Sh.1 million to acquire an office space and fully equip it before it commences operations.

There have been mounting concerns on the state of mental related issues in the country due to the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

Mental health has been declared a national public health emergency in the country. Research shows that one in every four Kenyans has some sort of mental disorder.

 But according to Mental Health America (2020), one in every five individuals have one or more mental health conditions and one in two individuals are at risk of developing them.

In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the formulation of an appropriate policy response at the national and county level owing to a surge in mental health-related cases, such as depression.

The County Director of Public Health and Sanitation revealed that the proposed amount would be used to refurbish Kisumu County Referral Hospital (KCRH) Psychiatric Unit. County Counseling Services, would also be established for civil servants and county workers.

He said that the County is committed to bettering the environment and services for mental health patients and establishing counseling services for civil servants and county staff is one of the goals as these employees face many challenges both at work and at home leading to poor performance.

“The counseling will help solve the conflict at workplaces which are common in the ten county departments,” noted Oluoch, adding that it would also influence the lives of civil servants who suffer from drug abuse like alcoholism and work related absenteeism.

The initiative will also prepare them for retirement. Two professional counselors would be recruited on an annual contract to kick start the noble process.

The counseling services would then be cascaded to the seven Sub-counties to offer family based therapy services for identified cases.

KCRH psychiatric wards have a bed capacity of 30 patients (15 males and 15 females) and a staff of about 30.

Dr. Oluoch disclosed that the facility handles most patients suffering from mental disorders in the area and it is facing dire challenges, hence cannot carry out its mandate effectively.

“Patients in this ward require frequent uniform change due to high degree of tear and wear. Currently, most patients in the ward suffer scabies due to poor sanitary conditions yet the unit has no benzyl benzoate emulsion to treat this,” said Oluoch.

The situation is unpleasant at the hospital due to inadequate psychiatry necessities, forcing the patients to share beds and uniforms.

To address these issues, the Department has opted to improve the service delivery for mental health patients by refurbishing the facility infrastructure.

A strong room would be set up for the violent patients to prevent sharing a single ward with other patients.

The mental illness patients living conditions would be improved by purchasing 30 psychiatry beds and mattresses each. This will end the sharing culture.

The Hospital will procure 60 new patients uniforms for both males and females. Another 60 pieces of beddings enough for 30 beds will also be acquired.

To improve on inpatient mental health care services, the facility plans to hire a professional psychiatrist and further obtain relevant psychiatric commodities such as new generation antipsychotics.

As part of post treatment services, the Hospital will now introduce family linkage and reintegration services.

An Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) machine will be installed at KCRH to treat patients with severe depression or bipolar disorders that has failed to respond to other treatments.

In addition, patients would be provided with a social insurance cover as part of the indigence category.

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