|Tuesday, 3 September 2002|
by Bharatha Malawaraarachchi
A large number of patients totally cured at the Angoda Mental Hospital are not being accepted by their relatives, health authorities said.
"We are unable to admit new patients to the hospital as a result of this," Hospital Director Dr Jayan Mendis said. Around 30 to 40 per cent out of the total inhouse patients fall into this category.
"They are completely cured but helpless as they are not accepted by their relatives. Those patients have recovered from manic depression and other severe mental disorders," Dr Mendis added. He attributed this mainly to the fault of guardians who had given wrong addresses and names to the hospital authorities when patients are admitted to.
Dr Mendis said letters have been sent to addresses given to them, but there were no replies. In certain cases, the hospital provided transport to some patients with the assistance of social workers to return to their homes - but were not accepted by the relatives. He said there is an urgent necessity to eliminate this stigma from the people's minds. "These patients are completely cured and should be assisted to lead a normal life," Dr Mendis added.
He proposed that either the Government or a Non-Governmental Organisation should introduce a social benefit scheme to the cured patients' guardians. "That will encourage them to keep the patients at home and look after them," Dr. Mendis added.
There are 1,200 beds in 16 wards at the Angoda hospital and around 1,500 inhouse patients at any given time. The over-crowding at the Angoda hospital is also attributed to the poor decentralisation of mental health services and the shortage of psychiatrists in the country. "It is estimated around 14 to 15 psychiatrists are available to receive treatment," he added.
Produced by Lake House