Decades after mental health regulatory reforms have languished in the legislative chambers with failed attempts at overhaul in 2003 and 2013; President Muhammadu Buhari has finally signed into law the Mental Health Bill harmonised by both Houses of Assembly in 2021.
The signing which seems to be a parting gift to Nigerians from the president is also the 1st Mental Health Act/ Law post Independence and will also replaced the Lunacy Act of 1958.
It could be recalled that in 2019, the mental health legislation was advanced, with the Senate passing it for second reading and holding public hearings in 2020.
On the 28th of November, 2022, the National Assembly passed the National Mental Health Bill, 2021, and forwarded it to President Buhari for consideration and assent last week, according to a memorandum by the Clerk to the National Assembly.
The President of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, APN, Prof Taiwo Obindo, who confirmed the Presidential assent, described it as a great relief adding “this is a victory for Mental Health Care and practice in this nation.
“A final culmination to over two decades of several efforts by the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria now has an Act/Law on Mental Health governance and we are now part of the global space with best global practice,” he stated.
Also, speaking, immediate past President of APN, Prof Taiwo Shielk expressed gratitude to God Almighty that the Mental Health Bill has been signed into law by The President and Commander In Chief of FRN. Congratulations to APN for our tenacity and advocacy for the voiceless.
“Our profound gratitude to Senator Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Senator Ahmad Abubakar, Dr. Ibrahim Gambari (COS), CBM International, Johnson & Johnson and all our partners. After several attempts, by His Grace we finally reached the milestone.
“We pray that The Lord will reward all those who contributed to the success of this project.”
According to psychiatrists, the law will help replace the Lunacy Act of 1958, which practitioners condemn as outdated and inhumane.
Some provisions of the National Mental Health Bill include creating a Department of Mental Health Services in the Federal Ministry of Health and a Mental Health Fund.
It will help to establish human rights protections for those with mental health conditions, such as banning discrimination in housing, employment, medical, and other social services.
Improving care by guaranteeing those receiving treatments have the right to participate in formulating their medical plans and eliminating forced treatment, seclusion, and other methods of restraint in facilities, additionally, expanding community-based coverage.
The law will also address the way and manner mentally ill populations are to be catered for without stigma or discrimination and also form global best practices in enshrining the human right of the mentally ill, how care can be accessed, and outlawing chaining or other forms of coercion.
The law, among other benefits, will help in making access to care for the mentally ill easier and ensuring that the human rights of the mentally ill are enforced.
It will also help in regulating the activities of mental health practitioners and eliminates stigma and discrimination.
It will also help in addressing the issue of funding for mental health care in Nigeria.
Enugu Federal Neuropsychiatric hospital workers foil attempt to abduct MD, Prof Igwe
Workers of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu have foiled a suspected attempt to abduct the Medical Director of the institution, Professor Monday Igwe.
Eye-witnesses said three stern-looking men had arrived at the facility Thursday afternoon in an unmarked Toyota Sienna bus, and moved straight to the office of the Medical Director, a development that caused panic among the workers.
According to the sources, the men had wanted to drag Igwe out of his office before words went out.
While workers started milling around the MD’s office, some of them who were already agitated demanded to know the mission of the ‘intruders’.
They were said to have quickly raised the alarm which attracted the attention of other staffers of the establishment.
“By this time, the hospital’s security personnel locked the entrance and exit gates, ensuring that nobody came in or went out of the premises while information was quickly sent to the DPO, New Haven Police Station,” one of the sources said.
It was further gathered that upon the swift arrival of the police, the suspects disclosed that they were police officers from the Zone 13 Command, Ukpo in Anambra State.
They were said to have claimed to have come to arrest the medical director based on a petition against him.
Their explanation did not go down well with the enraged workers who queried the surreptitious manner they wanted to whisk their boss away.
But, the DPO took the men to the state police command headquarters where further investigations were being carried out.
Speaking with newsmen on Friday, a leader of one of the unions in the hospital accused one of the staff of the school of post-basic psychiatric nursing of being behind the petition.
The unionist who wondered why the staff in question had been embroiled in one crisis or another in the hospital in the last 13 years, was reported to have engaged the services of non-existent civil society organisations to destabilise the hospital.
“Those people actually came with sinister motives. It took the intervention of the workers to save the situation before the DPO came with his men. They wanted to literally abduct him, but we resisted their attempt,” he said.
Neither the police nor the institution’s Medical Director would speak on the issue.
NAFDAC lists top 10 rejected Nigerian goods abroad
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has unveiled a list of 10 goods rejected abroad, blaming the rejection on non-adherence to standardised clearance procedures by stakeholders.
She said some of the commonly rejected export food commodities from Nigeria from 2018 till date and in the top 10 include sesame, beans, melon seeds, peanut and smoked fish/fish meal, ginger, spices paper, hibiscus flower, palm oil and ogbono.
The Deputy Director, Export Division, Ports Inspection Directorate, NAFDAC, Sanwo-Olu O.A. stated this in an address she delivered at the 3rd CHINET Aviacargo conference in Lagos, with the title, “Unlocking the Logistics Barrier to Improving Agro Exports Products.”
She blamed the rejection on non-adherence to set standard by freight forwarders, cargo handlers, airlines/carriers, regulatory agencies, as well as poor inter-agency collaboration, amongst others.
Sanwo-Olu called for collaboration among stakeholders to ensure that export trade meets the requirements of the country’s trading partner, in terms of quality, standards and quantity as trade increases.
IMMORALITY: Over 40,000 youth in Ghana are living with HIV – AIDS Commission boss
Over 40, 000 youth aged 15 to 24 years in Ghana are living with HIV, according to the Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene.
He gave these troubling statistics at the Joy Christian Forum dubbed, “Chastity and Morality: How are the Youth Staying Chaste in Today’s World?” last week Monday.
The forum sought to discuss and find answers to some of the thorny immoral issues plaguing the youth in recent times due to scarcity of jobs and exposure to all kinds of financial and sexual pressures as well as various forms of immorality.
According to Dr Atuahene, out of a cumulative figure of 355,000 Ghanaians living with the virus since the first case was recorded, 11 per cent comprise the youth.
“Although it’s the commission’s aim to reduce infections by 17% every year, we are unable to because of hikes in immoral activities,” Dr Atťuahene revealed.
He, however, admitted that they were able to reduce infections by 8 per cent in 2022.
“When we talk about HIV, we focus more on new infections because the more people get infected, the more we keep adding on to the existing number,” the AIDs Commission boss stated.
He explained that more women contract the virus because their genitalia is a receptacle. Moreso, the vagina lining and the tissue beneath it are quite fragile, making women more susceptible to HIV infection.
Dr Atuahene also mentioned that people who have untreated sexually transmitted diseases have higher risks of getting HIV and as a matter of fact, 10 to 13 per cent of people with STIs have HIV.
“If you have chlamydia, chancroid, or any ulcerative infections then you become even more vulnerable. When you sleep with anybody, because you have some ulcers down there, you’re most likely to get infected,” he explained.
Dr Atuahene therefore encouraged the youth to stay away from immoral behaviours that could endanger their lives.
The forum was headlined by revered and knowledgeable family life and youth counsellors such as Elder Amos Kevin-Annan, Convener of Singles in 3-D Summits, Rev Mrs Catherine Onwioduokit, a family life counsellor and Founding President, Family Renaissance International, as well as Ps. Andrew Yarquah, a pastor and counsellor based in Kumasi.
Host of Joy FM’s Christian Talkshow, “A Walk With Jesus” and daily devotion, “Joy Time In His Presence” and Prayer Line, Ps. Ato Acquah moderated the discussions.
The program was aired on Joy FM and all Joy social media handles.
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