About twenty-five focal persons last week took part in a five-day re-orientation workshop on mental health issues held at the Girls’ Guide Vocational School in Kanifing.
The training organised by the Psychiatric Unit of the Department of State for Health and funded by the World Health Organisation brought together participants from Divisional and Community Mental Health teams across the country.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director of Health Services, Dr Mariatou Jallow, said the Department of State for Health, with support from the World Health Organization, decided to conduct the training for the focal persons to meet the demand of mental health services across the country.
According to Dr Jallow, the provision of such training to healthcare providers would enhance their skills and knowledge to oversee the management and care of the mentally ill in the communities, adding it would ameliorate the burden of mental health and its related problems.
For her part, Mrs. Agnes M. Kuye, Officer-in-Charge at the WHO Country office in The Gambia, said her office has been at the forefront of supporting the Gambia government in various areas of mental health.
She noted that the training of focal persons, nurses and public health officers is part of the process for the decentralization of mental health services.
“It is in this regard that the World Health Organization continues to support and collaborate with the Department of State for Health in the areas of local capacity building, training of mental health nurses and the provision of vehicles to facilitate community outreach, particularly in mental health.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Bakary Sonko, head of the Psychiatric Unit at the Department of State for Health, urged participants to make best use of the knowledge gained during the training for the benefit of their respective divisions and the country in general.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Department of State for Health.