President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday issued an Executive Order establishing an ultra-modern national mental health hospital to address the rising cases of mental illness in the country.
In a State of the Nation address from Parliament in Nairobi, the Head of State said the institution will be named the East Africa Primer Mental Health facility.
The centre, the President said, will offer training, research in psychiatry, specialist psychiatry treatment, child and adolescence mental wellness, drug abuse and addictive disorder treatment and rehabilitation services.
“I shall be looking at this house (Parliament) to support the funding of this facility,” the President told the lawmakers.
The President also ordered for the elevation of the Mathare National Teaching and Referral hospital to a semi-autonomous specialized hospital to address the rising challenges.
Pres. Uhuru: There has been an increase in mental illness across the country. I have issued an Executive Order establishing an ultra-modern national mental health hospital & elevated Mathari National Teaching & Referral Hospital as a semi-autonomous specialized hospital pic.twitter.com/VAr4XGhxy2
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) November 12, 2020
On matters Universal Health Care (UHC), the President said the government is working with counties to ensure his administration’s aspirations are realized.
The President’s latest directive comes months after the taskforce on Mental Health recommended that mental illness be declared a National Emergency of epidemic proportions.
In its report released in July, the task force, which was inaugurated on December 11, 2019, indicated that Kenya has a high burden of mental illness due to ill health, psychosocial disability and premature mortality with huge gaps in access to care.
“Majority of Kenyans associate mental health and mental illness with negative narratives leading to low focus on the importance and benefits of mental health and wellbeing, ” the task force noted.
It is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from a common mental disorder. The number increases to one in every four people among patients attending routine outpatient services.
According to the Ministry of Health, depression and anxiety disorders are the leading mental illnesses diagnosed in Kenya, followed by substance use disorders. Alcohol contributes to the largest burden of substance use-related illnesses.