Depression let’s talk

NAIROBI, Kenya, 31 March 2017 – World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. The day provides us with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

The theme of the 2017 World Health Day campaign is Depression; Let’s Talk. In Kenya, the Ministry of Health and partners have scheduled a media breakfast on 7 April at the Panafric Hotel, Nairobi to mark the event.

Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 per cent since 2005, but a lack of support for the mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.

Globally, 322 million have depression, around 4.4%, of the world’s population, with the disorder being more common in women (5.1%) than men (3.6%), estimates the World Health Organization. Untreated depression disorders are the leading cause of the more than 788,000 suicides worldwide, which roughly corresponds to one death every 45 seconds.

Depression is caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry, which be triggered suddenly or over time by genetics, changes in hormone levels, chronic illnesses, stress, grief or difficult circumstances , but it can be managed with medicines and therapy.

In Kenya, a recent study by the University of Nairobi and Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kombewa, Kisumu County found that 1 in every 10 people suffers from depression. According to the WHO’s director-general Margaret Chan these new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency it deserves.

In 2016 the Ministry of Health launched the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030 to addresses the issues of infrastructure for mental health, human resource and funding among other issues.

Currently all the national referral hospitals, Kenyatta National Hospital, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Mathari National Teaching & Referral Hospital and National Spinal Injury Referral Hospital have specialized outpatient and inpatient care services for mental health, in addition to 16 county hospitals.