REPUBLIC OF KENYA

Garissa county decries increase of mental illnesses

Garissa, Kenya January 22, 2020 – Garissa county is experiencing increased cases of mental illnesses attributed to drug and substance abuse.

The county executive member for health Dr. Ahmed Omar said today when he received the task force on mental health led by Dr. Halima Mwenesi his office.

He disclosed that the local communities were major consumers of Miraa which is popularly known a khat in the area alonside other drugs.

He lamented that the mental health situation in the area has been complicated by the ignorance of  majority of the affected individuals unaware that they have a problem that require medical attention.

 

He attributed the problem to lack of awareness among the communities and the continued stigma that is associated  to mental disorders.

He said other cases emanated from depression that went untreated.

Dr Omar noted that a total of 450 cases of mental illnesses are reported and  treated every month and since the level 5 hospital has only a small psychiatric outpatient unit all admission cases are referred to Mathare Referral hospital in Nairobi.

He noted that the unit serves patients from from Wajir and Mandera counties.

The taskforce also paid a courtesy call on Garissa county commissioner Meru Mwangi who called for concerted efforts by the county and  national governments in hiring additional psychiatrists and counselors to help identify potential mental cases and have them assisted before their illnesses are fully blown.

During the oral submissions at Tana gardens it emerged that retrogressive cultural practices like female genital mutilation(FGM) was escalating mental illnesses.

It was noted that girls and women who had undergone the rite had difficulties in giving birth and some were traumatised causing depression and mental conditions.

The public impressed upon the government  to allocate more resources for the identification and treatment of  mental illnesses.

The taskforce will receive the final submissions at a national conference  on Monday  27th January 2020 at the Kenyatta International convention center (KICC) Nairobi, before compiling its final report.