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Published On: Mon, Mar 24th, 2014

Psychiatrist calls for passage of Mental Health Bill

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A psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Ogunnubi, on Friday, called for the speedy passage of the Mental Health Bill before the National Assembly to prevent the migration of psychiatrists.

Ogunnubi, who is the President of an NGO, Real Visionaries Initiative, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

The psychiatrist, who works at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, said that psychiatric practice was being done under duress in the country.

“Patients are getting more knowledgeable about their rights; today we talk about litigations, rights of doctors, rights of patients.

“There are so many litigations in which a doctor will treat a patient supposedly, which he has found and also confirmed by another psychiatrist that he is incapable of normal reasoning.

“And this patient will now file a suit against that doctor that he is holding him against his or her will. Why? Because, there is no mental health law; so, we are having chaos and we are practicing under duress.

“I think before psychiatrists begin to get out of this country, we are less than 250 to serve a population of 160 million. We are talking of an average of one psychiatrist to almost a million people.

“And, if these begin to leave, because nobody will want to practice in an atmosphere that is not conducive which he knows or she knows that his/her certificate is not secured.

“We will begin to have migration of psychiatrists, it is sad for us in psychiatry parlance.”

Ogunnubi said that a Mental Health Law would guarantee the protection of the rights and wellbeing of the vulnerable individuals, their families as well as the practitioners.

“The Mental Health Bill has been in the House for over 30 years. It has gone through first reading, second reading and it has gone to sleep.

“I believe that the ruling elite, our lawmakers should understand that this is a pertinent document that will help the government of this country.

“We believe that Mental Health Bill, which we hope if successfully passed, will help in so many areas. It will protect the patients, it will protect the doctors, it will protect the populace,” he stated. (NAN)

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