It will safeguard the rights of persons with mental illness

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said that his Ministry was considering a new legislation to replace the Mental Health Act, 1987.

Delivering the 17th convocation address at NIMHANS, Mr. Azad said the proposal was to replace the existing Act with the Mental Healthcare Act, which would safeguard the rights of persons with mental illness.

“The new legislation will also lay the foundation stone for a rights-based community-oriented protocol for the healthcare of persons with mental illness,” he said.

Stating that the Mental Health Policy Group, set up by the Union Health Ministry in 2011, had made progress in drafting a mental health policy for the country, Mr. Azad said: “There have been several consultations, both regional and national, and the Bill is being processed now to be introduced in Parliament. ”

‘Training is key’

Urging the State government to get their health personnel trained to improve the functioning of the district mental health programme, the Mr. Azad said: “The recent Global Burden of Disease study observes that the world-over, fewer people are dying, but more now live with disabilities, mental health disorders, pain and injuries.”

Delegation

He said he had led an Indian delegation to Moscow in April 2011 where the World Health Organisation had organised a two-day ministerial conference on ‘Healthy Lifestyles and Non-Communicable Disease Control’.

Argument

The Indian delegation had argued that like all non-communicable diseases, mental disorders required long-term treatment and affected the quality of life.

And at India’s insistence, mental disorders were also included in the list of non-communicable diseases.

Resolution

Subsequently, the World Health Assembly also adopted a comprehensive resolution on the global burden of mental disorders and the need for a coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level. “These developments have ensured that mental disorders will now form part of the global agenda and get due attention.”

Mr. Azad said his Ministry and the Health Ministry of Bangladesh had jointly set up a South Asian Autism Network. The meeting of the network that concluded on February 11 in New Delhi had adopted a declaration, he said.

Certificates

Earlier, Mr. Azad awarded degree certificates to 107 students from various degree courses. These included 28 students, who were awarded Ph.Ds. While nine students received special awards, nine others got their postgraduate degrees in psychiatric nursing. As many as 27 undergraduates (B.Sc.–Nursing) were also presented certificates.

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