By PRO Unit – MOHS

Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie has on Monday officially removed and dismantled the physical iron restraints (chaining) to a more humane (soft) restraints, a new method of chaining mental health patients at the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital, Kissy in the east end of Freetown.

Health Minister, Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie

Officially removing and dismantling of the physical iron restraints, Dr. Alpha Wurie disclosed that he visited the hospital couple of years ago, and could not imagine what he saw about three to four months back that the hospital would have been transformed to that kind of setting and commended partners in the health sector.

Dr. Wurie removing the iron chain and introducing the

humane restraints

Speaking about the linkage between government and NGO’s, the Minister observed that in Sierra Leone there are up to 50 or more NGO’s serving the Ministry of Health in which a large number will do peace building interventions in so many parts of the country that at no time they can put a finger on what has been done.

He told his audience that under the New Direction, non-governmental organizationsare encouraged to focus on a hospital or a district and ensure all required intervention within that district is partnered with the government of Sierra Leone.

Group photo of Dr. Wurie, Ministry officials and staff of the hospital

Dr. Wurie stated that some NGO’s received funds in the name of the people of Sierra Leone, and some of these agencies are funded in the name of government of Sierra Leone, adding that these are numbers that are reflective of the amount of money that should have been spent within the health system in the country.

The Minister reiterated that it is quite clear that the PIH has focused on the hospital through developmental process, which they now call the Sierra Leone Psychiatric hospital rather than the Kissy Mental hospital.

Dr. Alpha Wurie and team on a conducted tour of the hospital

He thanked the entire staff of the hospital for the great work and assured of his Ministry’s continuous support to the hospital.

The Medical Superintendent, Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Abdul Jalloh, said the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital is the only Psychiatric hospital in the country, which represents the face of mental health in Sierra Leone.

He said before 2017, it was estimated that almost all patients admitted in the hospitals and non-formal health care facilities are kept in chains and has been the mainstay of treatment with people suffering from mental disorders nationwide.

Dr. Jalloh thanked Partners In Health (PIH) for the prompt support to the hospital in renovating the hospital buildings, improve the electricity and water supplies.

He told his audience that the total number of patients removed from chains from January 2018 to June 2018 was 111 of which 93 are males and 18 females. He added that the total number of patients removed from chains from July 2018 to date is 66 of which 55 are males and 11 are females, adding that the total number of patients currently on chains is 5 of which 4 are males and 1 female.

The Executive Director, Partners In Health, Jonathan Lascher described  the collaboration between the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital and Partners In Health as true partnership, adding that they are an NGO working side by side with the Ministry of Health to fulfill the priority of government in the public system.

He said they are celebrating the unchaining of patients, which he said the Health Ministry has been yearning for a decade and stated that Partners In Health has put their resources so that it will become a reality for Ministry, the hospital and the patients as a whole.

Jonathan Lascher disclosed that when they first arrived at the hospital a year ago, it was not in good shape but with the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the introduction of good stabilizing drugs, they are proud to see patients coming out of chains. He expressed hope that the partnership will move from fear to a pride for the country, community, a place where people will get care rather than place to fear.

A symbolic removal and dismantling of physical iron restraints to more humane restraints, skit performance by staff of the hospital and a conducted tour of the hospital formed part of the event.

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