Expert highlights Mental Health issues

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Expert highlights Mental Health issues

Experts at a Seminar has stressed Mental Health Act has been enforced in all the four provinces of Pakistan to protect basic human and civil rights of persons with mental illness and to improve the quality of care provided to them. There is need to create more awareness in order to sensitize masses regarding mental health act and authority.

They were addressing an Awareness Seminar on Sindh Mental Health Act & Authority organized by Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi recently at Najmuddin Hall of JPMC, Karachi. Professor Emeritus Syed Haroon Ahmed was the Chief Guest whereas Prof. Dr. Tariq Mehmood and Dr. Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar was the guest of honor. It was attended by psychiatrists, psychologists, and officials of Sindh Government.

Senator Dr. Karim Khawaja, Chairman, Sindh Mental Health Authority & Chief Guest of the Seminar speaking on ‘Current status and future plan of Sindh Medial Health Authority’ said that Mental Health Act has been enforced realizing the need of it being essential. After the 18th amendment in the Mental Health Act, the provinces were individually given the right to introduce a legislation regarding mental health. Sindh Mental Health Act protects the affected patients, doctors as well as the paramedical staff. According to the Act, people trying to commit suicide would not be sent to jail, instead they would be sent for a complete medical checkup and would be kept for medical care if needed. Similarly, people speaking against religious / sacred personalities will also be put into medical checkup.

Talking about future plan, he informed that initially it was focused on mental health professional which was the first step towards raising awareness and sensitizing different groups of stake holders about the law. Future sessions are planned for members of the judiciary and lawyers, media, and general community and consumers of mental health services. A bill to decriminalize suicide was recently passed unanimously by the senate.

Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Afridi, Dean of JPMC & Head of Department of Psychiatry, JPMC spoke on ‘Mental Health Law in Pakistan and Sindh Mental Health Authority’ said that Sindh Mental Health Act is designed to protect basic human and civil rights of persons with mental illness and to develop and establish new standards for care and treatment of patients. Mental Health Authority is now being implemented properly across the country. The Act was put into practice in the province of Sindh in the year 2013, Punjab in 2014, Baluchistan in 2015 and KPK in 2017.

The Seminar was followed by panel discussion and question-answer session. The panelist includes Prof. Haroon Ahmed, Dr. Karim Khawaja, Justice Retd. Rehmatullah, Prof. M. Iqbal Afridi, Dr. Mubeen Ahmed Memon, Prof. Raza Ur Rahman, Prof. Moin Ansari, Dr. Sadia Qureshi, Dr. Ajmal Mughal, Dr. Minhaj A. Qidwai, Dr. Rubina Qidwai and Ms. Musarrat Jabeen.

In the end, vote of thanks was offered by Dr. Jawed Akbar Das.