Seminar to raise awareness about Mental Health Act

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Seminar to raise awareness about Mental Health Act

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi organized an Awareness Seminar on ‘Sindh Mental Health Act & Authority’ recently at Najmuddin Auditorium, JPMC Karachi.

Prof. Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed speaking as the chief guest on the occasion emphasized the immediate constitution of ‘Board of Visitors’ in order to establish the effectiveness of the Act in the community. He also advised to apply various sections of Sindh Mental Health Act 2013 at Tertiary Care Hospital so that the Act can be tested practically. He suggested to formulate a group of expert linguistics to translate the Sindh Mental Health Act in Sindhi and Urdu versions.

Senator Dr. Karim Khawaja, Chairman Sindh Mental Health Authority updated the participants regarding the activities of Sindh Mental Health Authority till-date. He informed that the Authority have conducted divisional meetings in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas and also plan to conduct more divisional meetings in Sukkar, Larkana & Nawabshah. The Authority has been doing activities from the own resources of the members without any funding from government. The anticipated seed money will be sanctioned in near future. The Authority will continue its efforts with collective wisdom and in guidance of Prof. Emeritus Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed.

Prof. Tariq Mehmood, Incharge Radiology Department and Acting Executive Director, JPMC, Karachi appreciated the efforts of Sindh Mental Health Authority for the service of mentally ill patients and Mental Health Professionals. He informed that a new Neurosciences Block will be replacing old building soon. It is furnished with latest equipments and sections as per requirement of Sindh Mental Health act-2013 and they are planning to materialize it as soon as possible.

Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Afridi spoke on historic development of ‘Mental Health laws in Pakistan and Sindh Mental Health Act & Authority’. He emphasized the short comings of Lunacy Act 1912. He said that Act stigmatized the psychiatric patients rather than protecting their rights. The terminology used in the Lunacy Act like word ‘Idiot’ was also objectionable so the suitable legislation was need of hour. Sindh Mental Health Act is comprehensive legislation to protect and serve psychiatric patients as well as mental health professionals. He also gave a brief overview of Sindh Mental Health Act-2013 with various sections, sub sections and amendments made till-date.

Prof. Dr. Chooni Lal lauded the untiring efforts of Prof. Emeritus Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed for the legislation of the Sindh Mental Health Act 2013 and establishment of Sindh Mental Health Authority.  He also acknowledged the effort of Senator Dr. Karim Khawaja currently serving as Chairman, Sindh Mental Health Authority for his personal efforts and dedication to materialize Sindh Mental Health Act-2013 and its implementation by the Authority. The role of Prof. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Afridi, Dean, JPMC/JSMU, Head of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Sciences and President Elect, Pakistan Psychiatry Society was also highly appreciated for the enactment of the Act and functioning of the Authority. He also described the historic development of Mental Health legislation starting from Lunacy Act.1912 to Sindh Mental Health Act 2013 in Indo Pak region.

Earlier, a documentary regarding historic background, facilities and teaching and training status of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, JPMC was displayed.

In the end, a panel discussion was held including Prof. Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed, Senator Dr. Karim Khawaja, Prof. M. Iqbal Afridi, Prof. Raza Ur Rehman, Prof. Tariq Mehmood, Prof. Dr. Zafar Haider, Brig. (Rtd.) Dr. Shoaib Ahmed, Dr. Rubeena Qidwai, Dr. Minhaj Qidwai, Prof. Furrukh Z. Bukhari, Dr. Ajmal Mughal and Dr. Nusrat Ali Syed. The following recommendation and Suggestions were made:

  • Status of Mental Health Legislation in other provinces of Pakistan. and was emphasized to arrange meetings with Mental Health Authorities of other provinces to enhance the cooperation and communication.
  • Role of Tertiary Care Hospitals and District Health Offices was also discussed
  • Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed suggested to take advantage of recent amendment in Builtul Mal Ordinance for the establishment of psychiatry facilities.
  • Minhaj Qidwai suggested to start registration of Mental Health Professionals and facilities. Ffor this purpose Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should be made as soon as possible.
  • On a question asked it was clarified that the Term “Court of Protection” used in the Sindh Mental Health Act refers to Session Courts and High Courts.
  • The panel urged to sensitize the law enforcement agencies regarding Sindh Mental Health Act 2013.
  • Zafar Haider told the authority about the chronic case of Schizophrenia admitted in Federal Govt. Officers (FGO) Ward JPMC for the last 12 years he suggested that the case should be shifted in a closed psychiatric facility where risk of harm can be minimized with the help of.
  • The panel authority also agreed to have a legal representative for PEMRA so that affairs regarding mental health issues can be dealt according to Sindh mental health Act.
  • Tariq Mehmood, suggested to invite civil society (philanthropist) in Electronic Medial to raise funding for mental health issues.
  • The role of clinical psychologists was also emphasized to raise awareness regarding Mental Health Act.
  • Karim Khawaja Chairman, Sindh Mental Health Authority concluded the session by saying that we will try our level best to organize the infrastructure Sindh Mental Health Authority and related bodies in order to address the mental health challenges faced by mentally ill patients & mental health profession as soon as possible