Dr. Charles Eyoung, the Psychiatrist Doctor at the Mental Health Unit disclosed to URN in an interview that the Hospital has run out of the essential drugs. These include among others Phenytoin, which controls seizures in patients with epilepsy and Naltrexone that is used in the treatment of post-traumatic disorder and alcohol abuse.
health patients in health facilities across Acholi Sub Region are paying a
heavy cost for treatment due to drug stockouts.
By Friday last week, 80 patients turned for treatment at Gulu Regional Referral
Hospital Mental Unit and 22 were admitted. However, the majority of patients were
referred to buy essential medicine from private pharmacies for their treatment.
The hospital receives between 60 and 70 new cases monthly, 90% of them being
men who present with alcohol and other substance abuse.
Dr. Charles Eyoung, the Psychiatrist Doctor at the Mental
Health Unit disclosed to URN in an interview that the Hospital has run out of
the essential drugs. These include among others Phenytoin, which controls
seizures in patients with epilepsy and Naltrexone that is used in the treatment
of post-traumatic disorder and alcohol abuse. Dr. Eyoung explains the
hospital has no choice other than to refer patients to private pharmacies to
buy the drugs.
//Cue in…”if you move…
Cue out…” for two days,”//
He revealed that the minimum cost of treating a patient with a mental health
condition costs between Shillings 60,000 and Shillings 365,000 a month. “The
people we see on the street with complete loss of contact with reality could
have been avoided but drugs are expensive for the poor to afford,” Dr. Eyoung explained. The Hospital Director Dr. James Elima has acknowledged the gaps in services
delivery at the mental health unit amidst a surge in the number of patients.
attributes the resurgence of mental illness in the region to post traumatic
disorder, which arose from the decades of war between the Lord Resistance Army
and the Government Forces. Dr. James Elima says that they often
budget for Shillings 2.6 billion for purchase of the essential medicines but
only gets Shillings 1.4 billion, which he says is inadequate. He revealed
that the hospital has proposed an increment of funding to the Mental Health
Department by 5 to 10 % in the next financial year.
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Cue out…”what we need,”//
Some of the families who spoke to Uganda Radio Network
described the mental health sector as a neglected area compared to other
sectors in health care. Sunday Ajok, a resident of Kasubi and mother of a 20-year-old daughter who has battled mental illness from her infancy, says that
she sold off her only three plots of land to raise money for treating her child
Ajok explained that the Shillings 10 million she raised from
the sale of land was all spent on the services of traditional herbalists before
she turned to the hospital only to find that the drugs are still not available.
“I have lost all my livelihood because I must closely attend to her but
nothing has changed yet because at the age of 20, I still feed her like a baby,”
Tamali Atim, the elderly sister of a 35 year old man who developed a mental
disorder at 8 years of age, says that her family spends Shillings 5,000 daily
to buy drugs from private pharmacies. She has equally asked the
government to provide livelihood support to the families of mental health
patients and provide drugs in the lower health facilities.
Derrick Kizza, the Executive Director Mental Health Uganda has advised the
government to prioritize mental health services, saying that most of the young
people in the Country are exposed to mental illnesses. “When the
Ministers and many of the government officials secretly tell you that my
brother, look, some of my children are battling with the condition then that
tells you that it’s not the issue of only the ordinary people that the
government must deal with” Kizza added.
The most common mental health condition in Acholi Sub Region is bipolar, which
presents with mood swings, depression, post-traumatic disorders and anxiety