24 May 2011

New step in decentralising Fiji mental health services

1:33 pm on 24 May 2011

The opening of a new stress management ward in Suva today is part of an initiative to decentralise mental health services in Fiji.

Along with the new ward at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, a psychiatric ward was opened in Labasa last Friday, and a ward will be opened in Lautoka in June.

The new wards are in line with Health Minister's directive to create psychiatric units in all divisional hospitals, following last year's mental health decree which called for the decentralisation of services.

A senior medical officer, at St Giles Hospital, Dr Amelia Andrews says mental health services are currently inadequate with only eight percent of the population able to access help despite 15 percent suffering from psychiatric illnesses.

"For Fiji, St Giles Hospital is the only mental health facility and we are located in the Central Division and we have to cater for the whole of Fiji, which means everyone from other divisions have to come to us. It becomes very costly for them and we do want family to be involved in their care."

Dr Amelia Andrews