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UN: One in three Somalis mentally ill
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
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The United Nations World Health Organization estimates that one in three Somalis have suffered from some kind of mental illness, a rate that is among the highest in the world.
Analysts say the endless chaos in the Horn of African nation has resulted in a loss of jobs, family, homes and property which in turn contribute to mental illness.
Abdirahman Ali Awale, known as Habeb, is a passionate advocate for the mentally ill, opened his mental center in war torn Mogadishu in 2005. He now operates a network of eight clinics and rehabilitation centers countrywide, with limited help from the WHO and other international donors.
Habeb mental center has the enormous task of attending to all types of cases brought in the ever busy mental institutions. Abdirahman however decries the manner in which the Somali society treats persons with mental disorder.
Medical professionals argue that doctors in mental hospitals employ poor techniques while dealing with such patients. Most of Somalia’s mentally ill are either simply chained to beds or left to roam the streets, leaving them with permanent trauma and physical injuries.
The lawless country has few professionals still operating in it. Majority of Somali professional doctors have set up bases in neighbouring states citing, insecurity in Somalia.
Observers say a lasting mental health for the Somalis lies in peace, returning to the country after years of conflict.
Majority of the patients at Habeb medical center are mostly victims of the endless Mogadishu combat and some were either tortured or forced to witness their loved ones killed in front of them. Habeb mental director however laments that his effort to help the mentally ill is being undermined by the spiraling conflict in Somalia.
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