Minister concerned by rising mental illness cases

Education minister Janet Museveni. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • Ms Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi, UNMEB executive secretary, said more students registered for the 2019 examinations by 4,888 compared to the previous year.
  • Ms Museveni warned that her ministry will not tolerate people who cheat.

Education minister Janet Museveni has appealed to Ugandans to train in health courses that will treat the rising cases of mental illnesses in the country.
Her concerns were raised in her speech read by the State minister for Higher Education, Dr John Chrysostom Muyingo, during the release of the 2019 Uganda Nurses and Midwifery Examinations Board (UNMEB) results last Friday at Prime Minister’s office in Kampala.
“There is less interest in mental health, palliative care and public health courses. There is increased cases of mentally ill patients and non-communicable diseases. This calls for increased mental care, palliative care and public health to mitigate the challenges,” Ms Museveni’s speech read in part. “It is unfortunate that very few students register for these vital courses that are desperately needed in our country,” she added.

To attract more students, Ms Museveni said, government has allocated a special fund to sponsor more students in these particular courses. She, however, did not disclose how much has been allocated for this cause.
Last year, the executive director of Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital, Dr David Basangwa, raised concern over the increasing number of mental disability (mental health disorders) cases.
“The number of patients is continuously increasing every other year. Three years ago, we had about 650 patients but as of now, we have more than 900 patients yet the official capacity is supposed to be 550 patients,” he said. Mental health disorders refer to mental health conditions that affect one’s thinking, behaviour and mood. It can be anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

Performance
Of the 45,029 candidates who sat the nurses’ examinations, 793 were doing certificate and diploma mental health training. Certificate in nursing had majority of the students (19,789). The final students accounted for 4,309, of whom 4,058 qualified to get an award in their respective disciplines. A total of 4,752 students were ungraded while 318 were absent.
Ms Mariam Walusimbi, the UNMEB chairperson, proposed that students in their second and third year of training be allowed to carry out their practice at referral hospitals while first year students can go to lower health centres.
Ms Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi, UNMEB executive secretary, said more students registered for the 2019 examinations by 4,888 compared to the previous year.
About 12 candidates and two examiners were reported to have been involved in examination malpractice.

Ms Museveni warned that her ministry will not tolerate people who cheat.
She asked the health training institutions to continue monitoring their graduates so that standards are maintained in the field. She asked those who qualified to be ready to serve anywhere in the country.
“We have known of health workers who shun working in rural communities and yet this is where the largest population of our people live and the greatest need for healthcare is found,” Ms Museveni said.

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