Saturday, December 3

Mental Health Act needs to be changed, says Tanka Tanka Matron

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By: Nyima Sillah

Following the Commemoration of the World Mental Health Day held on the 10th of October 2022, Omar Bojang, Matron at Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital has emphasised that the Gambia Mental Health Act needs to be changed.

In an interview with The Voice on Wednesday, Bojang said “We are still using the Lunatic Act which is very bad. The word lunatic itself is too bad. It is rather unfortunate that we are using that one since 2016, 2017.

“We tried our best to come up with a draft to change the lunatic act to the mental health act but that draft has been there since. It was at some point at the desk of the Minister of Health and from there it was supposed to go to the parliament for it to be enacted. This is still pending and it is more detailed than the one we are having.”

He said policies have to be put in place, bills have to be put in place for mental health to help and improve the mental health sector.

Meanwhile, he said the budget allocated to mental health is limited. “It is true that the government is saying the treatment for mental health patients in The Gambia is free. While they said it is free then, there is supposed to be a sufficient budget for that to be covered every year.

“The budget for mental health is rather unfortunate. It’s around D700,000 that has to include all the drugs and that D700,000 alone if you want to buy medications and other necessary things for the mentally ill people in the entire country, that wouldn’t serve them two months,” he disclosed.

Bojang went on to explain that discrimination at the professional level is crazy. Adding that in other regions even if you want to refer a mentally ill patient to Tanka Tanka

then you don’t have access to the ambulance. They said the ambulance is not for that.

“While inside the health system is discriminatory, the problem will be difficult to solve and it will become difficult for us to move forward,” he said.

Explaining the importance of the day, He highlighted that World Mental Health Day is celebrated to increase awareness and remind people about mental health and to give Mental Health workers the platform to tell people more about the significance of the day.