Sindh Mental Health Authority, Thar Foundation, Sir Cowasjee Institute, LUNHS and Sindh Health Dept. sign MoU for setting up Tele-Help system
System aims at curbing the increasing trend of suicides by providing proactive counselling/treatment services to identified patients
66 suicide cases have been recorded in first half of the year, of which 40 belong to non-Muslim communities
By GR Junejo
Mithi: Various government agencies and non-government organizations on Saturday joined hands to curb the disturbing trend of increasing suicides in Tharparkar by providing proactive counselling/treatment services to identified patients.
In this connection, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed here between Sindh Mental Health Authority (SMHA), Thar Foundation, Health Department of Government of Sindh, Sir Cowasjee Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Hyderabad (SCIPBS) and Liaquat University of Medical & Health Licenses (LUMHS).
The partnership is aimed at providing free of cost psychiatric counselling and treatment services, follow up, free medicines to identified patients under a one-year pilot project. According to the partnership, Thar Foundation will contribute by setting up remote counselling tele-health services in local language, a mobile app for monitoring and reporting of vulnerable cases and other logistical support to SMHA and other contributing agencies.
The MoU says that SMHA will act as coordinating and lynchpin partner in the achievement of the aims of the project and establish Thar tele health services connecting talukas of Thar with Mithi as hub supported by SCIPBS which will provide technical support, expertise from counselling to evaluation and management of the vulnerable cases, training of counselling and predisposing mental health illness management to service providers an institutional care to the chronic and needy cases.
According to the MoU, the District Administration will also play a major role to provide support and help in baseline data collection and emergency rescue support, where and whenever needed. Health Department will provide its infrastructure and community health workforce for training and counselling services and provision of medicines and supplies to the vulnerable patients.
Speaking on the occasion, SMHA Chairman, Senator Dr. Karim Khwaja said Tharparkar is considered as one of the districts of Sindh where cases of suicide are at rise due to variety of psychosocial and socioeconomic reasons.
MNA Dr. Mahesh Malani lauded efforts of all partnering agencies to addressing the issue of suicides in Tharparkar and coming up with an urgent and doable solution. He said the major reason behind 80 percent of the suicide cases in Thar is psychosocial and not poverty or unemployment.
Naseer Memon, General Manager of Thar Foundation was of the view that increasing trend of suicides in the district warranted an urgent attention to initiate a mechanism to identify cases and counsel them with modern approach.
Muhammad Nawaz Soho, Deputy Commissioner Tharparkar was of the view that 66 cases have been recorded in first half of the year, out of which 40 belong to non-Muslim communities. He said, district administration will provide all possible support to the project and the communities of Tharparkar to identify vulnerable patients for treating them n professional grounds.
Dr. Aijaz Qadir Patoli, Medical Superintend of SCIPBS was of the view that nowhere in the world government and institutions have addressed this challenge alone. “Apart from the implementing partners, government agencies and health institutions, civil society and the community should contribute their part to curb the increasing trend,” he added.
Vice Chancellor of LUMHS, Dr. Bikha Ram was of the view that it was need of the hour to launch a tele-help, which would arrest the menace of increasing suicides.
Dr. Sono Mal Khangarani, Chief Executive Officer of the Thardeep Microfinance Foundation was of the view that there was a need to investigate the scientific evidence behind every suicide case and develop prevention strategy.
District Health Officer (DHO) Tharparkar Dr. Gordhan Das, MS of District Hospital Mithi Dr. Gul Munir Vistro, Dr Bharat Kumar, Incharge of the Psychiatrist Department of District hospital Mithi, Dr. Jamil Junejo, mental health expert, Dr. Sobdar Shahani and senior officials also spoke on the occasion.