More support for mental health in PNG's Bougainville
Calls for more to be done to help provide for people suffering from mental health issues in Papua New Guinea's Bougainville.
There are calls for more to be done to help provide for people suffering from mental health issues in Papua New Guinea's Bougainville.
The Health Minister in the autonomous Bougainville Government, Rose Pihei, said earlier this month there is a lack of help for people with mental health needs, and those who are still traumatised by the civil war.
Leilani Momoisea reports.
Bougainville Health minister, Rose Pihei, says social disorder in the province is mostly connected to the trauma people went through during the crisis more than a decade ago. She says that trauma has never been dealt with and is becoming a generational issue. The minister says only one organisation in the whole Bougainville region has the skills to treat mental health issues.
ROSE PIHEI: It's becoming a real burden on that organisation, and that's why we will be needing specialist doctors to come in and aid us help, very little attention has been given to the whole region concerning mental health.
The director of medical services at Buka hospital, Dr. Barnabas Matanu, says as in most post-conflict regions, mental health services are very much needed. But he says there's minimal resources available to assist people. However, Dr. Matanu says a recently established mental health steering committee is looking to provide more training for health workers.
BARNABAS MATANU: We are able to train people who can recognise people affected by mental health initial complications, within the community. So that we can be dealing with this right in the community instead of focussing them right in the hospital setting.
He says it's important to have trained rural health workers, as it's often too expensive for patients to travel to the hospital to seek help. There are no psychiatrists on Bougainville, but Mr Matanu says he wants to see Bougainville establish it's own mental health unit, manned by a specialist psychiatrist. Rose Pihei says she especially wants the issue to be addressed, as the region's independence referendum looms.
ROSE PIHEI: As we are approaching the referendum, I'm scared to see people who will be voting for their future, out of their mind not really aware of the pros and cons of the kind of future they will be to see. So that's one of the reasons why I think mental health should be addressed now.
She says trauma and mental health issues should be priority issues for both the national government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to work to combat.
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