Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Few mental health experts

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The lack of interest in mental health has caused a great shortage of professionals in the field in Malaysia.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said local doctors mostly wanted to specialise in heart ailments.
Describing this as a serious problem, he said the number of people suffering from mental disorder had increased and the lack of specialists in the field did not help the situation.
“The Government has now allocated to the ministry RM600mil for manpower training under the Ninth Malaysia Plan,'' he told reporters after opening Puspanita's health seminar on mental illness here yesterday.
Dr Chua said the allocation would be used to train more nurses and medical assistants to become counsellors.
This will ensure that there are enough experts who could be sent to district and state hospitals to treat patients early instead of getting them to seek treatment at mental institutions.
He said this was the ministry's ongoing decentralisation plan.
He said Malaysians did not like seeking treatment at mental institutions because it had a social stigma and that had resulted in many not getting treatment until the illness had become more serious.
“World Health Organisation statistics show that mental illness is increasing and is expected to contribute to 15% of the total number of illnesses by 2020.
“Depression, which is the eighth most recorded illness, is expected to become number two by then,” he added.
Dr Chua said mental illnesses included depression, anxiety, sleep disorder and schizophrenia.
He added that drug addiction could also be considered a form of mental illness.
He hoped that non-governmental organisations such as Puspanita would educate people on mental illnesses and encourage them to go for early treatment.

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