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Health challenge

Mere Naleba
Saturday, August 09, 2014

WHILE suicide hadn't been prioritised or taken seriously by those at decision-making levels in the Health Ministr, it will soon change, says acting national adviser for mental health Dr Amelia Andrews during a Recovery Project Wrap Up workshop

Dr Andrews was responding to a question posed to her by Fulbright mental health specialist Eduardo Vega on the biggest challenges faced by those at national level.

"Suicide is a problem and I guess the ministry has not prioritised it as much as we have wanted to. I think with us being there at headquarters level, things would possibly change. I can't promise how long it is going to take but it will happen," Dr Andrews said.

The workshop organised by the Fiji National University and the US Embassy had a panel discussion which featured mental health experts from the FNU, St Giles Hospital, Fiji Alliance for Mental Health and the Psychiatric Survivors Association.

Fiji Alliance for Mental Health president Dr Odille Chang said it was a fact that mental health was not a priority and this was a problem not only experienced nationally, but regionally too.

"There is a small amount donated to Fiji, very small amount given the need that is out there, so I think we need to find ways to make mental health not only something that people can support but make it realise that it is vital that they support it — because WHO (World Health Organisation) said years ago there is no health without mental health."

St Giles medical superintendent Dr Peni Biukoto said the ministry allocated a budget and had been doing so since 2012 to fund activities organised for World Suicide Prevention day and World Health Day.

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