Plans to construct Mathari Mental Health Centre of excellence almost complete


Efforts to address the challenge of mental health in the country are set for a boost with the planned construction of the Mathari mental health centre of excellence at an advanced stage.

A meeting between health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and officials from Group San Donato and those from San Raffaele Research hospital in Milan, reviewed the building plan and design of the proposed facility that is projected to be the cornerstone of national mental health reforms.

During the meeting with the group, the health CS said the new facility will be the focal point and driver in organizing the new national mental care model.

“The new centre of excellence will be the cornerstone of the national mental heath reforms that aims at decentralising care delivery and improving access to care besides bringing down the cost of mental health treatment and psychiatric services.” Observed the CS.

The new Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital, which will be constructed on a 200-acre piece of land in Karen, will be similar to San Raffaele Research hospital located in Milan Italy. The hospital is a highly specialised multidisciplinary medical centre and one of the biggest in Europe.

The meeting in Italy follows the signing of a memorandum of Understanding between the Kenyan government and Group San Donato in July that will see the two collaborate with the aim of enhancing health services in the country. The agreement seeks to provide an enhanced local health sector that will guarantee quality services to all Kenyans and propel the country into a regional centre of choice for different diagnostics and advanced treatment.

In November last year, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe inaugurated the Mathari mental health board that was tasked with providing leadership in the establishment of Mathari hospital as a centre of excellence.

Once complete, the Mathari mental health centre of excellence will become a national education and training hub for mental health, providing specialised post-graduate and professional training for multiple professional specialisations and disciplines in mental health.

The country has witnessed exponential rise in the number of mental disorders in recent years with statistics indicating that approximately 20-25 percent of outpatients seeking primary healthcare present symptoms of mental illness.

A taskforce on mental health, which was inaugurated in December 2019, recommended a raft of measures including declaring mental health a national emergency as well as the establishment of a mental health commission and happiness, to advise, coordinate and continuously monitor the status of mental health, and report on the annual National Happiness Index.

The ministry of health has already developed a mental health policy (2015-2030) as well as unveiled the quality rights initiative that seeks to improve access to quality mental health services and promote the rights of people with mental health conditions as the country seeks to address the burden of mental health conditions.