The World Health Organization is hosting a two-day International meeting on Technical Consultation on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for People Affected by the Ebola Virus Disease.The aims and objectives of the meeting are to strengthen, prepare and respond to plans with regards to the social and mental health consequences of the Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
WHO organized the international conference to help the Ministries of Health in the three affected countries to make strategic plans to help people with mental illness.
In addition, the objective of the conference is to identify achievements, challenges and lessons learned in relation to the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease related mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) emergency response
Speaking at the opening yesterday, Liberia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale urged international partners to support health programs that already exist in African countries instead of supporting new programs.
He urged themto let African countries, especially those countries that are part of the Mano River Union (MRU) to head their own health programs with the partners’ support and that the partners should not interfere with any of the programs.
Introducing the program, Assistant Health Minister, Tolbert Nyenswah said the first international conference on mental health is timely for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as the three countries were badly hit by the deadly Ebola virus. He said people living with mental illnesses can also be affected by the Ebola virus; adding that it can further worsen their condition.
“We welcome the holding of this international conference on mental health because it has come at a time of mountain concerns about people with mental health disease. In recent times, many persons have taken Government to task on what is seen to be lack of policy and programs for individuals with mental health.
Unquestionably, many of those with such illnesses continue to roam the streets of Monrovia, some of whom sometimes attack peaceful citizens or destroy properties.
As the WHO hosts such program, we believe that it is timely and that is why we are urging the Government of Liberia to review its policy and program, if any, by making strategic plans to help people with mental illness.
Indeed, let something be done for the increasing number of mentally-deranged persons, commonly known in Liberia as “crazy people.” Again, we welcome such initiative and call on Government to play its part in ensuring that mentally deranged people are given the proper care as they are part and parcel of the society.