The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, says that Nigeria must pay greater attention to the psychiatric health of the citizens, as the nation grapples with the increasing menace of substance abuse.
The minister said this in Calabar on Saturday when he visited the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, which was vandalised by hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest on Oct. 24, to ascertain the level of damage done.
Describing the vandalism as mindless, Mamora said: “It doesn’t seem to me that anyone rational enough would even contemplate visiting the kind of carnage and devastation of this nature on this kind of institution that is meant to care for the mental health of the society.
“Though the hospital belongs to the Federal Government, it is in Cross River; we need to talk of what the governor, development partners, non-governmental organisations and, indeed, everyone can do to assist in bringing this hospital back.
“I have seen the damage myself and on getting back to Abuja, I will let the Minister of Health know the extent of destruction and we will put heads together and also see Mr President,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River said that the economic situation in the state was so bad that it could hardly help itself, not to talk of helping others.
Ayade, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, said that he would be deceiving the minister if he pretended that the state could repair the federal institution, as it was finding it difficult to repair the state government’s properties that were vandalised during the protest.
“Initially, we were making promises to assist organisations that suffered losses during the protest, but at a point, we saw that we could not carry it anymore,’’ he said.
Earlier, in his remark, Dr Bassey Edet, the Medical Director of the hospital, said in its 117 years of existence, the hospital had never witnessed the magnitude of the devastation visited on it on Oct. 24.
Edet said the scale of destruction of the administrative block, the store, laboratories, wards, pharmacy, vehicles and others was massive and had taken the hospital 30 years backward.
He appealed to the minister to intervene by helping to repair and restore the hospital to its former state.
The hospital, which was established in 1903 by the British colonialists as an asylum, is the first psychiatric health facility in Nigeria. It was later upgraded and renamed in 1995 by the then Minister of Health, Dr Dalhatu Tafida.