By Wisdom Ngwira

 St John of God has expressed concern over poor public mental health care system in the country which the institution says is contributing to increased number of suicide cases in the country.

The institution says according to its recent research findings, nine people out of 100,000 in the country, commit suicide in a year.

Speaking Friday in Mzuzu during a graduation ceremony for St John of God students, Chief Executive Officer for the institution Charles Mwale said it is sad to note that Malawi’s suicide rate is higher than other countries in the Southern African Developing Community (Sadc).

Mwale said the country’s suicide rate is higher compared to other countries such as South Africa and Zambia.

“Five and seven out of 100,000 people commit suicide annually in Zambia and South Africa, respectively, and these figures are smaller as compared to our situation.

“As an institution which provides mental health care services, we have noted that these suicide cases are mostly orchestrated by the country’s limited number of specialists in mental health illnesses.

“We have a lot of people who are suffering from these mental health related illnesses but since there are very few specialists to treat these illnesses, a lot of them end up being unattended to and people who suffer from such illnesses resort to committing suicide,” Mwale said.

Mwale said considering the gap in human resource professional mental health, St John of God decided to start offering training in the field to help in addressing the challenge.

“I am glad today to preside over graduation ceremony of about 20 specialists in mental health from our institution whom I believe will go a long way in treating mental health sicknesses.

“This is a right step towards better mental health care service delivery,” he said.

Mzuzu University Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Fred Msiska hailed the institution for taking a leading role in dealing with mental health challenges in the country.

“We commend them for being the only institution specialised in treating mental health illnesses in the country. They are doing a wonderful job and I hope more institutions such as this one will be established,” he said.

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