Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Olugbenga Owoeye has raised the alarm over the negative impact of COVID-19 on the ability of Nigerians ability to function optimally.
Owoeye who spoke during the 4th edition of the hospital’s annual research conference, said the situation is made worse with rising cases of insecurity and conflicts which are considered to be threat multipliers.
“The years 2019, 2020 and 2021 have been challenging in the sense that COVID-19 pandemic has worsen the existing insecurity and conflicts, thus stressing the mental health stability of individuals beyond limit. The COVID-19 crisis has heightened the risk factors generally associated with poor mental health, financial insecurity, unemployment, fear,” he lamented.
Further, the psychiatrist said the COVID-19 pandemic, and crises arising from insecurity and conflicts are widely considered to be “threat multipliers” that can amplify existing vulnerabilities, inequalities, societal divides, fragility, instability and threats to social cohesion and peace processes.
He noted that some of the protective factors such as employment, educational engagement, physical exercise, access to health service fell dramatically which led to a significant and unprecedented worsening of the population mental health.
“It is, therefore, imperative to research into the link with mental health and effort geared toward evidence-based approach in solving the problem,” Owoeye said.
Corroborating his views, a public health physician, Professor Akin Osibogun said there was a need to improve investment in health, enhance public health preparedness and respond to pandemics, including health intelligence.
He advocates a strong political commitment to financing health at the federal, state and local government level, “Nigeria is ranked 197 out of 201 countries in terms of the quality health system; and one of the poorest countries among Africans.”
Speaking on the theme of the conference: “Insecurity, Conflicts, and the Pandemic: Impact on Mental Health”, Osibogun said the situation required urgent and drastic attention to be paid to the nation’s health system for improvement.
He urged the local governments to take responsibility for the Primary Healthcare Centres, PHCs, and invest more in them as the entry point of other health care systems. “The PHCs should be the baby of the health care system but it is now the orphan,” Osibogun said.
Guest Speaker and Honorary Professor of Psychiatry & Consultant Psychiatrist, Institute of Clinical Sciences, University of Brimingham, UK, Prof. Femi Oyebode, urged young psychiatry practitioners to be committed to research for development and advancement in mental health delivery.
Speaking on the topic, “Thinking of Research: Delusional Misidentification Syndromes as Exemplars”, the don said the research was to change and influence other people’s way of thinking and perception.
“What matters is the degree of commitment to the research subject. There are different case series to be researched upon by the psychiatry practitioners especially the young ones.
“The main purpose of research is to totally alter and influence other people’s way of thinking or doing things. You don’t have to wait until you have 500 patients or more before embarking on research. Try and discover what people do not know and make them know it.
“I call on young psychiatry practitioners to venture into researches and findings; this is the only way you can contribute to the global health community and at a very high level. Otherwise, we will continue to remain where we are; doing things the same old way,” he asserted.