Delivery of mental healthcare is poor: Minister

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Bangalore, Feb 22 (UNI) Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss, today expressed concern over the poor delivery of mental healthcare services in urban as well as rural areas of the country.

Delivering the Presidential address at the 12th convocation of the National Institute of Mental and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) here he said presently only 3300 qualified doctors were available to treat mental disorders of one billion people in the country. Of these, 3000 were in five metros and just 300 in semi urban and rural areas, he stated.

Stating that over 1.5 per cent of the country's population suffered from severe mental disorders, he said 80 per cent of them lived in rural areas. ''We have a huge dearth of human resource to tackle the challenge,'' he added.

Informing that over Rs 1200 crore would be spent to provide mental health care during the 11th plan, the minister said taking into consideration the dearth of qualified personnel to treat mental disorders, it was decided to provide basic training for doctors working in the state hospitals. ''NIMHANS has been designated to provide such training to the doctors, who in turn would treat patients in rural areas,'' he said.

Hailing NIMHANS for its integrated approach in finding solutions to provide mental healthcare in both rural and urban areas, Dr Ramadoss said Rs 1200 crore 11th plan outlay would help initiate qualitative and quantitative steps for setting up systems of delivery of mental healthcare in this millennium.

The Minister said the new plan document proposed to cover the whole country in a phased manner with the district level mental health programmes. Each district would have an outlay of Rs one crore per annum and the programme would be sponsored by the Centre.

Expressing concern over the increasing incidence of suicides, he said a National Suicide Prevention Plan had been proposed under the Human Resources Development and Capacity Building Exercise.

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