By Stephen Kalema
Over nine per cent of Uganda’s population suffer mental health disorders as per the current report conducted in 2018.
And according the Ministry of Health, mental illness in Uganda is on the increase with most cases being bipolar including depression and anxiety.
The revelation was made by head of mental health, Dr Hafsa Lukwata at a symposium on mental health this week at Kyambogo University.
“The data we have from the health Management information system shows that the mental health prevalence is nine per cent. In simple terms out of 44,270,563 Ugandans 3,984,351 have this problem. Recent rankings show that Uganda is one of the countries with the highest burden of mental disorders in Africa,” said Dr. Lukwata
Dr. Lukwata says the current prevalence might be very small since many cases of mental disorders are not reported to mental hospitals but rather people think they are bewitched.
“This increment has been identified with the help of health management information system which has records of the patients that visit hospital however there is no survey that shows the magnitude of mental health beyond those that visit hospital.”
“I want to make this clear that the nine per cent is for other causes excluding epilepsy but when we add it on the percentage increases to 12 per cent. For that matter, I call upon everybody to get involved in helping them,” added Dr. Lukwata
According to Dr. Lukwata despite the fact that this disease is increasing, there is only one referral mental hospital in Uganda Butabika, which has made it hard for ordinary Ugandan to access treatment.
“We still face a problem of congestion at the National referral hospital. Our government has to come in and create regional referral mental hospital to relieve Butabika hospital. But also we have very small number of psychiatrists as compared to the number of patients,” said Dr. Lukwata
Currently there are over 34 psychiatrists for the population of 44 million people, according to Dr. David Basangwa, Butabika hospital director said mental disorder is growing at high speed however there are few medical personnel willing to become psychiatrists.
“Causes of mental illness are emerging yet the number of psychiatrists in the country is not increasing,” said Dr. Basangwa.
Some of the causes of mental disorders include anxiety, drug abuse, depression, domestic violence, unemployment, poverty, sexual abuse among others.
However its sometimes its inherited.