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Mental Health and Pakistan
Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress affect 30% of Pakistan’s population. According to the World Health Organization, one percent of the population diagnosed that is suffering from serious mental health conditions.
Mental health diseases typically go undiagnosed, unmanaged, and ignored because of the stigmas and taboos linked to them in the nation, as well as a lack of competent experts. Patients to professionals in the area of mental health is a startling one to one hundred thousand, practitioners highlighted during a symposium last year. There was increased criticism of the government’s sluggish response to public health issues.
To make treatment and consultation more difficult to get, private medical practitioners have recently raised their fees. The lack of coverage for mental health treatment has even prompted some individuals to opt-out of mental health programmes.
Furthermore, people in this situation cannot seek assistance from the public sector; physicians report that large government institutions in the nation can only treat patients with serious mental diseases and have no space for psychological counselling and treatment.
Mental Health Treatment Cost
Because of the absence of government oversight, psychologists in the private sector demand a hefty cost for each session. There were initially prices of Rs1,500 every session, but they continued rising till they reached Rs7,000 per session,” recalls Ms X, a 28-year-old NGO worker in Karachi. It was hard to continue mental health therapy with a monthly income of Rs45,000,”
Psychiatrist Dr Shoaib Ahmad, of the Dow University of Health Sciences in Karachi, concurs with Ms X’s observations. According to him, he has met patients in the past several years who have been pressured into paying an established therapist Rs200,000-R300,000. Despite this, the patients claim that even after multiple sessions, they saw no difference in their life.
A remark made by Institute of Applied Psychology Director Dr Rafia Rahim varies from the one made by Dr Ahmad. A psychologist and a psychiatrist are two different kinds of professionals and so charge different rates for the same amount of time. According to the doctor, the average cost of treatment is Rs3,000, but it may range from about Rs1,000 to more than Rs7,000.
A psychologist provides an hour-long treatment session that includes evaluation and reports writing, unlike a psychiatrist’s prescription of medication, she told to News Reporter. “This is why such appointments are generally pricey and need several tests.”
Mental Health Law
Last month, the Senate’s standing committee on national health services unanimously rejected a bill to regulate the profession, titled the Pakistan Psychological Council Bill, on the grounds that areas mentioned in the bill were already covered by the Allied Health Professional Council Bill, which was passed in February.
The Allied Health Professional Council Act 2022 is now legislation, and it intends to provide a standard for basic and advanced training in Allied Health facilities and to govern the registration and licencing of professionals in the sector.
Professionals in the healthcare industry are individuals who offer diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative, curative, or rehabilitative services as defined by the law. Patients, on the other hand, argue that the bill should also offer inexpensive mental health treatments and address the astronomical growth in the cost of pharmaceuticals.
Previously, Dr Moiz Merub Awan, a Karachi-based doctor, paid less than Rs400 a month for the antidepressants he used to treat his depression; now, he pays more than Rs3,000 a month for the same medication. According to Dr Merub, a world-renowned specialist on public policy, the coronavirus epidemic affected his emotional well-being. In addition to the expense of my medication, I spend Rs10,000 a month for only four treatment sessions. Insurers would not foot the bill for this, he claimed.
Psychiatric medications may abruptly vanish from the market and then be offered on the black market for ten times their original price. 24-year-old student, Wasif, claims that pharmacists tell him to get his medications from an unlicensed seller when he can’t locate them in their stores.
He told that an anti-depressant that ordinarily costs Rs200 might cost Rs1,200 if purchased in black. Because of the rising expense of psychiatric medications, patients may choose to stop taking them altogether, which is harmful to their long-term health, according to Pakistan Psychiatric Society head Dr Imtiaz Dogar. Additionally, people with bipolar illness, for example, may need medication as soon as possible. As Dr Dogar told, “Long-term therapy is important to preserve lives.” if these individuals are not properly cared for, their condition will deteriorate and they may even kill themselves.
A national action plan for addressing the pandemic of non-communicable illnesses, like as mental illness and trauma, was unveiled in November by Dr Faisal Sultan, a former special adviser to the prime minister on health. Nevertheless, it isn’t apparent where the strategy is at the present time.
Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress affect 30% of Pakistan’s population. According to the World Health Organization, one percent of the population suffers from serious mental health conditions. The lack of coverage for mental health treatment has prompted some individuals to opt-out of programmes. The Senate’s standing committee on national health services unanimously rejected a bill to regulate the profession. Patients argue that the bill should also offer inexpensive mental health treatments and address the astronomical growth in the cost of pharmaceuticals.
The Allied Health Professional Council Act 2022 is now legislation, and it intends to provide a standard for basic and advanced training in Allied Health facilities. An anti-depressant that ordinarily costs Rs200 might cost Rs1,200 if purchased in black. People with bipolar illness, for example, may need medication as soon as possible. A national action plan for addressing the pandemic of non-communicable illnesses was unveiled in November.
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