Mental health is the second most important public health problem in Haiti

Posted by Lenouvelliste on Friday, December 1, 2017 Under: Health
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Critical situation, limited human and financial resources, non-existent infrastructure, the picture of mental health can not be more desolate in a country where the population with mental illnesses is growing. Dr. Hans Lamarre, a professor at the Université de Montréal, gave an interview to the newspaper during which he explains that the start for change should not be long. For him, there is no debate, health has never been the subject of political will.


"Mental health is a major problem in Haiti, and it must be said several times. What are the answers to this challenge? They are almost nonexistent, " explained at the outset him who comes to Haiti to strengthen the Haitian health system.

The most optimistic statistics spot 15 psychiatrists for a population estimated at more than 10 million inhabitants. And there are only two institutions that deal with mental degenerates. "The situation is critical. The stakes are many and the resources are limited, " said Dr. Hans Lamarre, saying the situation is worrying.

It is much more so because, on the one hand, we do not have enough information on the state of things and on the other hand, we do not have structures that allow us to act properly. But one thing is certain, the country's environment favors the development of mental illnesses.

The training psychiatrist specifies that the situation of Haiti is peculiar. The Haitian population is facing both chronic stress, taking shape in the poor accessibility to the basic needs of individuals, which is economic, political and social and more acute stress caused by natural disasters.

The director of the department of mental health at the Faculty of Medicine of the State University of Haiti (UEH) is clear on this point. Mental health is a problem that impacts Haitian society. He quotes the World Health Organization (WHO), which states that mental health is the second most important public health problem in Haiti, and WHO identifies mental health problems as the first public health problem in the world. .

If health has never been the concern of governments, today it should be. "The setting up of a mental health care network can not wait any longer. The state alone can not face an issue of this magnitude. It will be necessary to work with international organizations, " urges the doctor.

This system, which will focus on the treatment of mental health problems in Haiti, warns the psychiatrist, should not depend solely on psychiatrists.

According to the psychiatrist, the prevailing model in Haiti is that of community psychiatry. It does not really count on infrastructure, but relies heavily on human resources. It will be necessary to invest in the training of professional doctors and non-physicians, namely psychologists, social workers, nurses and psycho-educators.

The state has to invest for several reasons because psychiatric diseases are real diseases. They cause suffering, distress, pain ... They affect the individual in a variable but certain way.

Hans Lamarre recalls that psychiatry, this branch of medicine, does not require large means. The tools are there. It is a political will. It is up to the authorities to become aware of and face the challenges posed by mental health and to put structures in place.

Dr. Hans Lamarre advocates for the rehabilitation of the Mars and Kline Institute, one of the leading neurological centers for mental illness. For him to fulfill his dual mission, care and training of residents, he believes that the hospital must integrate the structure of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH).

In addition, Dr. Hans Lamarre believes that health has never been a political issue in Haiti. It is also not among the priorities of the state. "The budgeting of health in a country clearly shows the place of this sector in the order of priorities of governments," he said.

If only 4, 3% of the national budget is allocated to health in Haiti, 85% is dedicated to salaries. This leaves very little money for the purchase of drugs, the maintenance of infrastructure or the creation of new services.

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