Mainstream mental health in all agencies, govt urged

KAMPALA, May 22, 2024 – Parliamentary Commissioner and Nyendo – Mukungwe Member of Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga urged government to plan for mental health services in all its departments and agencies.

Mpuuga said the same efforts should eventually be spread to the private sector like it is in the case of HIV/AIDS.
“One of the biggest approaches that curtailed HIV/AIDS was mainstreaming it in all sectors and all activities. Now we can attest to a very serious reduction in the spread of HIV/AIDS. Is it hard to do the same for mental health in all we do?” Mpuuga said.

He made this call at the opening of the mental health camp at Parliament gardens on Tuesday.

The legislator also wants government to respond to the occasional mental health drug stock-outs at Butabika National Referral Hospital.

The Chairperson for the Parliamentary Forum on Mental Health, Geoffrey Macho called for additional funds to support the hospital which he said lacks basic needs like accommodation for patients.
“In case any supplementary budget is tabled, the hospital should be considered being the only national referral hospital handling mental health,” Macho said, adding that  the hospital was planned for 400 patients but now they have more than 1,200.

He reiterated the need for Parliament to fast-track the Alcohol Control Bill aimed at regulating alcohol consumption in the country.

In the same vein, the Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hafsa Lukwata re-echoed the urgency for Parliament to process the Alcohol Control Bill, noting that substance abuse is the leading cause for mental health illness among the youth.

On his part, the Deputy Director of the hospital, Dr. Byamah Mutamba asked for an increased funding to be able to reach out to communities, a strategy he said would reduce the number of patients at the hospital.
“As a national referral hospital, it is our mandate to take services to primary health care centres and in communities. This way, we would not have many patients at the hospital,” said Mutamba.

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