The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has said that it was committed to ensuring the passage of the Mental Health Bill and will work with members of the National Assembly to achieve this.
President of the association, Mike Ogirima, reiterated this commitment at an event in Abuja on Friday to mark the 2017 World Health Day which theme is: “Depression: Let’s talk’’.
Ogirima said that if the Mental Health Bill is passed, it would protect the rights of people with mental health illness as well as attract respect and dignity for them as they access health care.
The NMA president commended some of the lawmakers who have shown interest in the resuscitation of the bill.
He noted that the theme for this year’s World Health Day was apt, as it emphasises the ability of individuals with depression to function properly at the family level, at work and society at large.
The medical practitioner condemned situations where people with mental illness were neglected in the society largely because they were considered as defective in character or under punishment for some spiritual deviance.
Available statistics, according to Ogirima, shows that about 4.2 percent of Nigerians suffer from depression, including children.
But he said it was unfortunate that despite the heavy socio-economic burden caused by the condition, the nation still does not have a mental health policy, with the exception of Lagos State.
He said: “A national strategy to address mental health problems in Nigeria by government at all levels is needed, one which should lay emphasis on prevention.
“On this day, let us commit ourselves to those who suffer depression to ensure that they no longer suffer in silence.
“We must ensure that stigma and misconception about depression do not replace medicine.”
The World Health Day was first commemorated in April 1948 at the World Health Assembly and April 7 was set aside every year to mark the day.
It is aimed at raising awareness by highlighting priority areas of health concern.