‘Why Individuals, Firms Should Assist In Providing Mental Healthcare’
Dr Richard Adebayo, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Psychologist, is the acting Medical Director, Federal Neuro Psychiatry Hospital (FNPH),Yaba, Lagos. In this interview, he listed his challenges and achievement in the past five months, even as he calls for the assistance of philanthropists and private organisation to help the hospital in mitigating the effects of dwindling funding.
How has is it been since you were appointed as the acting MD?
I came on board on the 26 October 2015 when the Federal Government appointed me in acting capacity as the MD of the hospital.
The truth is that it has been very challenging, especially coming from the era we were at that time. The hospital was in crisis because were on strike for several months. A lot of things, I must say, were grounded. But today we thank God that there is peace and harmony; there has not been strike since then. We have been able to do what we are expected to do as professionals in attending to our patients.
Not that we do not have challenges anymore, we do. I must commend our staff-the unions, the doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, laboratory scientists, radiographers, accountants, maintenance and cleaners- everybody is important. We have been working together as a team. That has been our area of strength. We have put our differences aside. We know that this is our project, and we are only employed here to render service to millions of our citizens and do research and training.
Honestly, it has been very challenging in the sense that a lot of things were down, and we have to bring them up again. We ensure that the water cistern has started working. By the time I came in, we were using tankers to fetch water from outside. We have been able to reactivate our internal water works, take care of the plumbing system in the wards and offices, because most of them were not functional as at the time I came on board.
We have injected about 130 mattresses (110 new ones and 20 refurbished ones). We bought 50 pillows and bed sheets. We are repairing more than 50 bed steps to ensure that we have more bed spaces.We are getting almost 400 patients on admission now. That shows that prior to this time we had a lot of dilapidated structures. Meaning that those mattresses were no longer useful and functional for human use.
And we got the assistance of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), My Father’s House, Lagos Province 21 Headquarters in Magodo, Lagos.They provided us with about 20 new mattresses, a set of lawn mowers, shredders, ceiling fans, wall fans and freezers. On our own, we decided to buy more.
We spent a lot of money to repair our generators so that we can power the hospital. Although we have not gotten to 24-hour power supply era, the power supply in the hospital has improved tremendously compared to with what we were saddled with.
In clinical areas, we have put in measures to ensure that the waiting time is reduced and ameliorates the challenges our patients were having in accessing treatment.
Our emergency centre in Oshodi Annex has been upgraded to render service for 24 hours, and we are seeing increased number of patients. We have just completed a new building emergency centre in Yaba and soon we will start using it.
We are coming from a two-room consulting centre to more than six-room consulting edifice with well- furnished and air-conditioned building, which is befitting for our patients. We have restructured the place in such away that the patient can get all the services in emergency situation in a single place; they do not need to go helter-skelter to get drugs. We are having everything within the building.
We are trying to improve our kitchen, which used to be in dilapidated level; we are injecting freezers. We are repairing the mosquitoes nets in our wards to ensure that patients are not at the mercy of mosquitoes.
Our School of Post Basic Psychiatric Nursing and Mental Health Nursing administration building has been raised to a storey building and it is nearing completion. By the time the building is completed, it will inject life into the school. The issue of lack of office space and lecture rooms will also be solved to a large extent.
In terms of research, we have a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland,US in the area of biological psychiatry. We just got a grant that will run for four years to do the research,and we have commenced that. That will be the first of its kinds in the Sub-Sahara Africa. And by the time we complete the research, it will put our hospital in research map of the world in area of biological psychiatry.
What are your challenges?
We have challenges in the area of paucity of funds. The funding from Abuja is reducing everyday. It is a reflection of what the Federal Government is passing through since the oil revenue has dwindled and we are having a lot of security challenges in the country. So, the money meant for the running of the hospital has been on the downward trend.
We used to receive about N14 million as overhead cost. But last month, we got about N2.7 million. That means that we must strengthen our internally generated revenue.Unfortunately, this is a psychiatric hospital. There is a limit of what we can generate. Otherwise, the common people that we see will not able to access treatment.
Mental health disorders are associated with a lot of stigma and discrimination. Most of the people you will see are the people from middle or low socio-economic class.People in high strata of economic level will not ordinarily come to this place. They will prefer to see psychiatrists in abroad or in a private setting because of stigma. So, people we see are those who are highly dependent on their relatives. Some of them are jobless and even the family members are tired. We cannot increase our charges just like that. Otherwise it will be out of reach of the common man. If you look at the policy of Mr President, he is concern about the welfare of the common man. We are handicapped. We cannot continue to increase our charges astronomically.
This hospital is one of the psychiatric hospital in the country. It is about 100 years old. That will give you the glimpse about our infrastructures; most of our infrastructures are getting old.We need to upgrade them or pull them down and build new structure. It is also the largest not only in Nigeria but also in West Africa. So, we are saddled with a lot of patients. We have so many patients, but the revenue base is very small.
That is why the issue of mental health service should not be left in the hands of government alone. Individuals and corporate organisations should also come to our assistance and partner with us. There some churches that have been of assistance, like Anglican Church, Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina and few individuals. But we still need more help.
We have more than 50 abandoned patients in this hospital. That means we take care of them. We feed, clothe and accommodate them, provide their medical, not just mental, intervention. When they have to see ophthalmologist, cardiologist and endocrinologist in another centre, we have to take care of the bills. And when they die, we bury them because their families have abandoned them. We lost one patient recently who had been abandoned with us for more than 30 years. And as the time he died, he was almost 70 years. The last time he saw his relative was 33 years ago. That is just one out of 50.
Good Samaritans picked some of them up and abandoned them here. Others were picked up by the law enforcement agents who abandoned the patients here.
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