June 15, 2024

New Malaysia Times

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World Mental Health Day: Mental Health in an unequal world

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Kuala Lumpur, Oct 10 – In conjunction with the World Mental Health Day, observed on the 10th of October, the College of Physicians Malaysia and the Academy of Family Physicians has organized the World Mental Health Day Training Initiative 2021, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

This year, the World Federation of Mental Health’s motto is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, to reflect the theme of this initiative.

According to a statement released by the College of Physicians Malaysia, mental disorders are among the most common and disabling health conditions worldwide and should be considered a top global health priority.

In a 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), 29.2% of Malaysians aged 16 years and above reported the prevalence of mental health issues.

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Whilst the recommended WHO ratio is one psychiatrist serving a population of 10,000, the number of psychiatrists in Malaysia currently stands at around 500, with an estimated ratio of roughly one psychiatrist per 100,000 people.

Acknowledging and praising the sacrifices made by the frontliners, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who delivered the keynote address pointed out that his ministry must innovate in addressing and treating the non-COVID-19 burden in the throes of the pandemic, suggesting that the most efficient way to address this would be to empower the 6700 General Practitioners across Malaysia.

The implementation of new services like Advanced Acute Internal Medicine (AAIM) services in hospitals including Hospital Tuanku Fauziah, Perlis has shown dramatic benefits in reducing non-COVID medical admissions which helped decongest the medical wards”.

Additionally, a dramatic drop in the average length of stay for non-COVID-19 medical inpatients resulted in a reduced rate of nosocomial infections among hospitalized patients and allowed efficient redeployment of manpower and resources to combat COVID,”  said Khairy.

The ‘Family Doctor Concept’ was in fact coined by the Ministry of Health in 2013 with the tagline “One Family, One Doctor” and has been a success as evidenced by the fact that 58.4% of patients in the rural households were found to visit the same clinic.

Director-General Of Health Tan Seri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah also delivered a second keynote titled Turning the Corner in the Battle against Covid 19 – the New Mindset.

Dr. Noor Hisham stressed that it was vital to think out of the box in battling the pandemic and to continue to deliver health care without further congesting the already burdened hospital facilities.

Pilot telemedicine projects involving geriatric care in Hospital Sungai Buloh and other Klang Valley hospitals and outpatient COVID monitoring in COVID Assessment Centres have been successful.

Even in Kangar, at the northern corner of Malaysia, heart failure in patients was addressed with the usage of inexpensive smart apps which allowed remote monitoring of patients’ daily weights and other clinical parameters on smartphones – reducing the need for patients to come to hospitals and thus decongesting health care facilities” elaborated Dr. Noor Hisham.

Dr. Noor Hisham stressed that the MOH will look into prioritizing COVID vaccines for those with severe mental illnesses as being part of a high-risk group, adding that this was in line with the MOH policy of ‘leaving no one behind’ when it comes to healthcare.

This virtual training event witnessed more than 600 doctors from different ends of the health care continuum – both primary and tertiary care uniting in one forum, to learn from one another and benefit from the 2-way exchange of ideas and knowledge.

The event featured a number of vital topics ranging from depression and substance abuse to mental illnesses in Children.

NMT