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State to fuse mental healthcare with primary healthcare system

The state Health Department plans to integrate mental healthcare into the primary healthcare system in the state.

Written by Amrita Didyala | Ahmedabad | Published: February 8, 2009 3:08:33 am

The state Health Department plans to integrate mental healthcare into the primary healthcare system in the state. The scheme has been planned on the basis of a survey done by the Indian Institute of Management,Ahmedabad (IIM-A) in 2006.

Mental health has been a widely unaddressed issue in Gujarat. The inadequate state machinery has been a spoilsport in expansion of the mental healthcare system,as the state has only 200 trained psychiatrists.

In view of this,the department is now hoping to spread some awareness and do away with the stigma attached to such patients by training the medical officers and health workers at Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs).

The department has allotted a total of Rs 1.2 crore for the programme that is to be implemented by way of upgrading the available resources and training the health officers.

Principal Secretary,Health,Rita Teotia said: “We will train regular health professionals to address the requirements at PHCs and CHCs. This is an integration programme,as we are no more taking up any vertical programmes. We are initiating the move in some of the district hospitals immediately.”

At present,out of the 26 hospitals,eight district hospitals have full-time psychiatrists while 14 honorary psychiatrists visit 22 district hospitals twice a week.

“Under the programme,medical officers and health workers will be given a 15-day residential training at the six government medical colleges and four mental hospitals. The total number of health workers trained will depend on their availability and decision of nodal officers,” said Ajay Chauhan,secretary,State Mental Health Authority.

IIM-A Prof Dilip Mavlankar,who has been involved with the Mental Health Report prepared by the IIM-A,said: “Although 15 days training cannot turn health workers into psychiatrists,it will help develop perspective to vague symptoms,which are generally avoided. De-stigmatising and sensitising the health workers is crucial,as the work of most of the health workers is to identify and refer patients.”

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