Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More funding for mental health needed, experts say



More funding for mental health needed, experts say

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Mental health patients seeking treatment queue at a hospital in Phnom Penh to see a doctor or nurse. Afp

More funding for mental health needed, experts say

Cambodia's budget for mental health care must be increased dramatically if the government aims to properly respond to the mounting demand for services in the Kingdom, health experts said yesterday.

The current state of mental health care in Cambodia, where studies say 1.5 million people are living with a variety of mental health issues, falls far short of the global average, officials agreed.

According to the Mental Health Atlas, released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday, nearly a tenth of people worldwide have mental health disorders and nearly half of the world’s population lives in a country where there is less than one psychiatrist per 100,000 people.

“The demand [in Cambodia] is certainly higher than the current services provided . . . and even the quality is not so good as other countries’, but it has improved and [is] better compared to nothing,” said Dr Muny Sothara, deputy director of the recently established Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Following a 2014 survey by the department and the WHO, Cambodia was found to have 63 mental health outpatient facilities and only one inpatient facility, with 10 patient beds in the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said WHO mental health officer Dr Yel Daravuth.

Last year, the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital recorded 248 inpatient cases, while other clinics and health centres dealt with 42,333 outpatient cases nationwide.

There are also only 41 registered psychiatrists in the Kingdom – 10 for inpatient facilities and 31 outpatient facilities – while there are 81 psychiatric nurses and 19 general practitioners with mental health training spread between both types of facilities.

“This is a big problem,” Daravuth said. “We can’t even compare the amount Cambodia spends to other countries, because it’s seriously very low.”

Most public clinics, hospitals and some private clinics, such as the one run by the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, charge $2 to $3 per consultation and a month of medication, an amount TPO executive director Dr Chhim Sotheara said patients cannot always readily afford.

“For a country that has to go through the traumatic experience of war, genocide and poverty, mental health care is just not enough or accessible,” Sotheara said.

“So it’s really important that the government invests more in it so it gets better.”

Sothara agreed, saying he hopes that the budget will also increase for his department as they develop their strategic plan for 2016-20 and expand their training program for doctors.

“We are moving little by little, but this is our ambition,” Sothara added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases