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The Issue Of Mental Health In Africa; WHO Initiates Campaign To Curb Suicide.

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In conjunction with the incoming World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2022; WHO started a social media campaign to create awareness and stir up actions against suicide in Africa with the goal of reaching 10 million people across the African region.

According to WHO, Africa has the world’s highest record of suicidal death and around 11 people per 100,000 per year die by suicide in the African region, higher than the global average of 9 per 100, 000 people.

This is due in part to insufficient action to address and prevent the risk factors, including mental health conditions which currently affect 116 million people, up from 53 million in 1990’, says WHO.

WHO’s campaign is aimed at the creation of awareness and raising of support from the governments and legislative bodies to give more attention, help and funding to mental health especially in the prevention of suicide. All of these will include, providing the health sector with the right aids and props to help people fighting suicidal thoughts and letting them know where to get help.

Also, educating the general public on ways to know and give help to those who have been stigmatized

as a result of their life experience with suicide, mental health conditions, epilepsy, alcohol and drug abuse.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has reported that the theme of the 2022 World Mental Health Day has been tagged, ‘MAKE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING FOR ALL A GLOBAL PRIORITY’.

This is to give more focus on the care of mental health and also for improved access to health services.

The World Health Organization has stated that Africa is home to 6 out of 10 countries with the highest rate of suicide worldwide. Studies have shown that in Africa, for each completed suicide, there are estimated 20 attempted ones.

According to WHO, the frequently used means of suicide in Africa are hanging, use of pesticide as poison, use of a firearm, jumping from a height, medication overdose and drowning.

Suicide is a major public health problem and every death by suicide is a tragedy. Unfortunately, suicide prevention is rarely a priority in national health programmes.

“Significant investment must be made to tackle Africa’s growing burden of chronic diseases and non-infectious conditions such as mental disorders that can contribute to suicide.

“Mental health is integral to wholesome health and well-being yet far too many people in our region who need help for mental health conditions do not receive it.

“It’s time for radical change.

“Ongoing efforts by countries should be reinforced and broadened to make mental health care a public health priority in the African region’, says the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

A press conference was held by WHO on the 6th of October, 2022; led by Dr Joseph Cabore, Director of

Programme Management, WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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