By Reuben Olita

The Busia Department of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with AMPATH-Dumisha Afya has initiated plans of integrating mental health into different programs and activities in the County.

The Program Manager Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Innovations within AMPATH Justus Elung’at said the objective is to address the gaps in terms of mental health.

“We have agreed to look into activities to integrate mental health as well as focus on the needs within the County and how AMPATH can help in terms of capacity building of staff, referral system and other aspects that require attention,” he said.

Speaking at the Chef West hotel in Busia town during a meeting attended by the County Health Management Team (CHMT), Elung’at disclosed that adolescents and healthcare providers are among those affected by the condition.

He however noted that stigmatization has to a large extent discouraged locals from coming out to seek help, adding that the issues can be addressed before they escalate into mental cases.

The Director Universal Health Coverage ( UHC), Dr David Mukabi said that people should
not present the physical illness for their mental health needs to be addressed.

“In the earlier days our focus used to be so much on how do we take care of the disease that the patient is presenting with. Am glad that over time training has
evolved in our institutions and the practice is changing.
When you focus on the patient then you realize the needs are not necessarily the physical things like drugs that we keep on prescribing to them,” he said.

The Community Health Services Coordinator, Emmanuel Luvai said key among areas of focus should be to initiate community dialogues on mental health and health promotion through the media which plays a significant role in shaping community discussions.

One in every four Kenyans is diagnosed with mental illness in their lifetime, according to the Ministry of Health.

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