Mental Health Programme For Mabaruma Weekend Roll Out

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, MOPH – The national mental health programme will be launched in Mabaruma, Region 1 (Barima/Waini) this weekend as part of a broader outreach there by a team of specialists.

The newly-formed Mental Health Unit headed by Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas will set in motion at Mabaruma the national vision to help de-stigmatise mental illness in Guyana and re-emphasise that the ailment “is very treatable”.

Dr Richmond-Thomas said the current five-year mental health strategy foresees the time when Guyanese don’t have to be institutionalised for mental health disorder because the unit has been training professionals to diagnose and treat the malady.

At this weekend’s launch residents will be treated for multiple ailments including schizophrenia, attention deficit, attention meme, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder and suicide.

The interventions will be more “clinical than psychological” specialist at the Unit, psychologist Mr Balogun Osunbiyi said. Osunbiyi said mental health services will now be integrated into the country’s primary health care.

Consequently, more than 70 local physicians will be trained next month to offer mental health support to patients around the country.

“This will make a major difference if all doctors are watchdogs” in the mental health sector Dr Richmond-Thomas said.

She said nurses will also be trained to help in the quest, noting that exposing health sector workers to insights into mental health “will help reduce the stigma” in the country.

“Mental health (challenges) in the past were undetected because we hadn’t trained personnel” Richmond-Thomas explained.

As part of the two-day medical outreach, Mabaruma residents will also benefit from a range of specialised services from general surgeons, anesthesiologists, obstetrician/gynecologists, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons  and internal medicine specialists drawn from the country’s private and public sectors.

Many of the medical specialists also include some representing the 160-strong Cuban medical brigade currently in Guyana to boost the health sector programmes.

It is anticipated over the two-days that some 40 surgeries will be done between Saturday and the wee-hours of Monday morning, Mr Michael Gouveia, Coordinator, Indigenous Peoples’ Communities Regional Health Services, said.

Gouveia said the operating theatre at the Mabaruma medical facility will run 24/7 between Saturday and early Monday to handle patients.

He assured that “patients will be hospitalised until the medical officials deem them fit to be released. Usually, most patients are ready for discharge within 48 hours…we’ve been doing this for the last seven years,”.

During the outreach the team will also distribute free reading glasses to residents. However those needing prescription lenses will be required to pay a subsidised fee of G$10,000 to receive their glasses.

This is a collaborative effort between the MOPH and EyeCare Guyana.

In the meantime, there are plans currently being implemented systematically to narrow the gap in services available between the country’s coastland and the hinterland.

The gap is bridged by “making specialised services available in hinterland areas to level the playing field with the provision of equity of services,” Gouveia explained.

This weekend’s programme in Region one “is one such” Gouveia said.