Two buses valued at $11,179,023.12 were handed over to the South East and Southern Regional Health Authorities to be used as part of their Community Mental Health programmes. The buses were purchased with the assistance of the CHASE Fund.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony this morning (Wednesday, July 8, 2015) Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson said the buses will boost the Ministry’s efforts and support the Community Mental Health programme in several ways.
“They will be used by the Community Mental Health teams to reach patients and clinics across the two Regions. The teams will also be better able to respond to emergencies. This is significant because each year we treat approximately 20,000 persons in community mental health clinics. In 2013, the Community Mental Health team responded to over 500 crisis calls related to various mental health emergencies. For the ones who are unable or unwilling to access care at the primary care level, the buses will also enable us to improve our ability to provide home-based care,” he said.
He added that the buses will allow the Regions to increase their outreach to some of the most vulnerable patients as well as their public education drive and health promotion activities as part of efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination against persons affected by mental illness.
“Stigma, social exclusion and discrimination are significant issues which affect persons with mental disorders and negatively impact interventions put in place to care for and treat these persons,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He urged the Regions to use the buses for their intended purpose and told family and community members not to destroy them.