HOSPITALS around the country lack mental and psychiatry services despite having a capable workforce.
The comment was made by Malaysian psychiatry professor Dr Parameshvara Deva who said the psychiatry treatment in Fiji was confined to only one institution — St Giles Hospital.
Dr Deva participated in a mental health workshop facilitated by the Ministry of Health in Labasa last week.
"We have more than 300 nurses who can actually provide psychiatry services but none are based out of St Giles," Dr Deva said.
Those included 228 nurses in mental health and 29 post basic nurses that graduated each year, he said.
"There is not a single bed out of St Giles including none at CWM Hospital, none in any other hospital around the country and in outer islands despite the demand of such service from a lot of people," Dr Deva said.
"If a patient is admitted in any ward of the hospital and needs mental counselling, he or she is referred to St Giles Hospital even of it's a young woman who after delivery goes into depression. She is referred to St Giles for treatment."
Dr Deva said this should not be the case instead a patient must be provided counselling and medication at the local hospital.
He said the motion to decentralise psychiatric services to other areas was rejected in the past because the availability of 135 beds at St Giles was considered sufficient to cater for all psychiatric services and treatment.
"Mental illness must be given a timely treatment and this can be achieved if mental and psychiatry services are integrated in all medical care," Dr Deva said.
"We have lots of psychiatric drugs and it's cheap.
"We have the patients and the tablets but we lack professionals who can recognise the illness and help patients use the drugs."
Health Minister Doctor Neil Sharma said psychiatric services will soon be decentralised to other medical centres apart from Suva's St Giles Hospital.
Dr Sharma said there were plans to set up a mental ward of 6-8 beds in Labasa.
"We need to develop a better understanding of the new mental health decree and improve our psychiatry service delivery," he said.