Over 4,000 mentally challenged persons can’t access treatment in Calabar
No fewer than 4,000 persons with mental health challenges cannot access the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State, for treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Bassey Edet, disclosed that the facility records an average of 10, 000 patients yearly but given its current situation, between January and now, about 40 per cent of the patients could not access the hospital due to lockdown.
He told The Guardian at the weekend that it was unfortunate that neighbouring Akwa Ibom was closed as a large huge number of patients come from Akwa Ibom due to the lockdown.
He said, “People have not been able to access mental health services, so you can imagine the kind of nightmarish thoughts those who cannot access care would have and those who will break down without care.
“We have supporting services in Akwa Ibom but it is a matter of preference. A lot of people still prefer to come to Cross River. Apart from Akwa Ibom, people come from Benue, Imo and Abia and even Cameroon for treatment, but because of border closure, they can no longer come.”
He stated that the pandemic brought with it several challenges and that among other things mental health is a worse hit because patients that come from different states could not access mental health services.
“We can’t even give to them because we did not expand our mental health services to those areas. It throws up a lot of issues. So, post-COVID-19 pandemic we shall have bigger problems,” he added.
Edet said the patients on the ground would be properly monitored to ensure that there were no problems, as they were observing social distancing even in terms of bed spacing.
“But basically there is a screening process, temperature checks and other precautionary measures before patients are admitted. The testing is based on suspicion. We have taught the medical personnel to treat every person like we do with HIV–positive until proven otherwise.
“With the pandemic in the country, essential services still run because we are still doing our job even though it is not on our normal scale. We have collapsed a lot of the clinics. We merged two or three clinics into one so we don’t have too many people about,” he said.
“We still have essential services, but the interval between clinic dates has been stretched out. We had to give our patients longer dates to stay at home, take their drugs and all that and we still serve those who need emergency services,” he stated.
He explained that Cross River State has no case of COVID-19 and as such, they do not treat COVID-19, “but there are those who access our services for treating anxiety and depression sequel to COVID-19.
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