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World Health Day focuses on mental disorders

World Health Day focuses on mental disorders

On the occasion of World Health Day on April 7th, the World Health Organisation has called for more attention to be paid to the detection and treatment of mental disorders, especially in South East Asia. At a press conference, the regional director for the WHO appealed to the Asian countries to upgrade their laws relating to mental problems. At present, mental health laws are either non-existent, or heavily skewed towards social ostracism. Mentally ill individuals do not have many human rights and are often left to their own devices if abandoned by their caretakers. Most of these abandoned individuals are often women. Dr. N.G. Desai, Head of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), pointed out that most of the long-stay patients in their institute are women who are not claimed back by their family members, even after sufficient treatment. Mental health disorders account for five out of ten most disabling disorders in the world. More than 400 million people worldwide suffer from mental and neurological disorders. However, because of ignorance and lack of adequate support services, mental ailments are still not given the importance that they deserve. In various functions around New Delhi, officials felt the need to supplement medical infrastructure for handling mental patients, with contributions from the private sector. A need for community based intervention was also felt. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. A.K. Walia, the Delhi health minister, stressed that there was need to spread awareness about mental health among school children and to implement coping strategies from a grassroot level. He also mentioned that prevention was the best cure for the problem, in a country like India, where the doctor to patient ratio is as low as 1 to 20,000 in some areas. This year on the World Health Day, the diseases in focus are – Schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, epilepsy, mental impairment, Alzheimer's disease and alcoholism. Apart from awareness about these diseases among the lay population, it is necessary to provide refresher courses for qualified doctors to keep them abreast of recent advances in this area. There is need to adopt a holistic approach to the diagnosis and treatment for these silent and stealthy killers.
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