THERE is a need to increase the number of psychiatric wards in Fiji.
This concern was expressed by the Saint Giles Hospital as well as the Ministry of Health yesterday.
"The development of mental health services in each division is needed to improve access of the community to appropriate, responsive, and timely services," medical superintendent at Saint Giles Hospital, Dr Peni Biukoto said.
This comes after a comments made last week by Malaysian-based doctor, Dr Parameshvara Deva, stating that the Pacific region was lacking in its provision of mental health services.
"Teachers of psychiatry need to shed their prejudices and fear and boldly move forward leading the young students into the future of mental health care and stress management for the people of Fiji," Dr Deva had said.
Agreeing, with Dr Deva's sentiments Dr Biukoto said rather then investing in new psychiatric hospitals, respective authorities should consider creating psychiatric wards within existing hospitals.
"Fiji does not need more psychiatric hospitals, it needs integration of mental health services into the medical services provided at divisional and sub divisional hospitals and health centres."
"Small psychiatric wards in divisional hospitals should suffice, instead of more psychiatric hospitals," he said.
"Saint Giles Hospital as a tertiary hospital should play a small part in the provision of mental health services," Dr Biukoto added. Responding to the comments, the Ministry of Health's acting permanent secretary Josefa Koroivueta said "we agree completely".
Dr Biukoto said the main reasons for the lack of mental health facilities in the region was that mental health was often seen as a low priority area.
"Also, there is limited clinical exposure of medical undergraduates in the Pacific during training to mental health services and there was a lack of postgraduate courses in mental health."