Responding to media enquiries on whether the Ministry of Health and partners have plans in place to deal with mentally ill people roaming the streets given the Pacific Games 2023 in November this year, Dr George Malefoasi, NRH Chief Executive Officer said the Ministry of Health and NRH is working to build a new Mental Health Acute Ward before the games.
Dr Malefoasi said it has been the plan of the Ministry of Health and NRH to build this ward since 2021 and the proposal was approved then however COVID-19 and delays with payment processes has hindered progress.
“It was not aimed for the Pacific Games however we are picking up on this project and optimistic that it should be completed before November this year when the games start”, said Dr Malefoasi.
He outlined that the proposed new Mental Health Acute ward will make available five (5) beds for acute patients and one (1) for very critical patients needing isolation and management and will be built next to the current day clinic and NRH psychiatric unit next to the old morgue. The construction of new Unit is also in line with the new Mental Health Policy recently approved by cabinet last week in expansion of health services and coverage.
The NRH CEO also highlighted to the media that some families and relatives of psychiatric patients have come forward to express willingness to contribute to the welfare of family members and relatives who need psychiatric help.
“This is an important step towards the much needed combined effort to addressing our psychiatric patients. In fact, the revised and updated mental health policy which is due for cabinet consideration and approval calls for multisectoral approach in caring and protecting the mentally ill in the country as there is increasing youth, men and women suffering from neurotic and psychotic mental disorders, especially depression amongst youths”, said Dr Malefaosi.
The NRH Mental Health unit is functioning but mostly consultations, new and ongoing treatment and referrals to Kilu’ufi Hospital in Malaita province. Acute patients in Honiara are treated in the Police Custody in Honiara Central Police Station, which is not acceptable but due to lack of facility for them that’s the safest way. Hence we commend Police Officers for their very heartfelt willingness to take care of our mentally health sick whilst on their medication.