It is one thing to read and to write about something, it is another thing to talk about it, and it is yet another thing to witness the reality on the ground. In this light the Gbm Country Director got a first hand grip of the state of mental health in Cameroon when she visited the lone public psychiatric ward in Yaounde the capital of Cameroon. It all started with a visit to the HIFA country office in Yaounde.
Visiting the HIFA Country Office
The Gbm country Director, Ms. Marie A. Abanga, last March 2016, visited the Health Information for All, (HIFA) country office in Yaounde Cameroon. HIFA is a UK based international organization, with various country representations, which works to bring together experts and other health personnel’s to share information and resources with the hope that through their ever growing network, such information will be made available for all. The Gbm foundation is actually one of HIFA’s supporting organisation, and so the Director looked forward to the working visit.
In her conversation with the HIFA country representative in Cameroon, Mr. Didier Demassosso, they reflected on the mental health situation in Cameroon, the dilemma of persons living with and/or affected by mental illness in Cameroon, while lamenting on the absence of any mental health public policy in Cameroon. The country director was delighted to find out that Mr. Demassosso mindful of his busy scheduled finds time once every other fortnight to go to the lone public psychiatric ward and animate a support group of persons living with and/or affected by mental illness.
Visiting the Lone Public Psychiatric Ward in the Capital City
After the enriching conversation, the country representative for HIFA, Cameroon took the Gbm Country Director for a visit to the lone public psychiatric ward in the renowned Jamot Hospital. During the tour in the hospital, the country Director was able to talk with some administrators in charge of the patients, to find out the current situations of the patients and what could be done to help them. In the course of her visit, she also had the opportunity to chat with some of the patients, while deploring their lamentable living conditions. The Director was sad to visit the ward for severe cases which looked more like a secluded disciplinary prison cell.
The State of the Art of Mental Health in Cameroon
Mental health is an emerging preoccupations of the World Health Organization (WHO). Resolution 65.1 was adopted at the 65th Health Global Assembly in May 2012, calling on all member states to contribute to world statistics by carrying national research on the state of the Art of Mental Health in their respective jurisdictions.
In this light, although Cameroon is yet to carry out a national census of persons living with and/or affected by mental illness. The Minister of Health institute a Cameroonian national day of mental health and organized a pilot symposium on mental health in December 2015. The theme of the symposium revolved around the current mental health statusquo and perspectives for the future. During the symposium, there was a lot of communication, sensitization and free consultation. One of the objectives of the symposium was that there was need to demystify mental illness. Nobody is completely protected from mental health problems, since we are all exposed to life’s difficulties and therefore be informed about mental health.
For resolutions; there was dire need to accentuate sensitization campaigns on mental health and mental illnesses, actively engage various civil society and public authorities so that a public policy for mental health be adopted, create a database for the sharing of information between the different stakeholders.
Kindly Get Involved
Gbm as a civil society organization actively involved in the fight against the stigmatization of persons living with and/or affected with mental illness, is happy to join such a national platform and contribute to the sharing of resourceful information for a better mental health for all. We rely on donations from our partners and persons of good will and call on all to support our various projects.