Tamil Nadu

Govt. inks MoUs to strengthen mental health initiatives

Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between the National Health Mission- Tamil Nadu and three non-governmental organisations on Friday to strengthen measures to provide mental healthcare to the elderly and prevent suicides and for the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer among children.

One of the MoUs was signed with the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) to train medical personnel, working in the geriatric wards created by the State Government in district headquarters hospitals, on geriatric mental health, particularly dementia care.

Suicide prevention

Another MoU was signed with Sneha, an organisation working towards suicide prevention, to strengthen government initiatives to prevent suicides. The third was signed with the organisation, CanKids KidsCan, to address the gap in early detection and treatment of cancer among children.

Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ma. Subramanian said the MoUs with the three organisations were part of a series of progressive measures being taken the government to strengthen public health. He highlighted the recently launched Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam scheme, which provides healthcare at the doorstep, and the soon-to-be-launched Innuyir Kappom initiative that will help reduce road accident fatalities.

He said the State Government was taking steps to ban the sale of cow dung powder, the consumption of which was becoming a widely prevalent method of committing suicide. The State will also look at imposing stringent restrictions on the sale of rat poison, he said.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said the MoUs were an example of how NGOs that work in specific areas could complement the government’s measures.

Training personnel

Darez Ahamed, mission director, NHM-Tamil Nadu, said some of the focus areas, as part of the collaborations, would be training personnel and strengthening fine-tuning standard operating procedures and protocols.

R. Thara, vice-chairperson, SCARF, said strengthening elderly care was significant for Tamil Nadu, as the State had nearly 11% of its population in the elderly age group — one of the highest in the country. She said the prevalence of dementia was particularly on the rise among the elderly, and that required additional focus.

Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder, Sneha, said the number of people ending their lives by suicide, particularly among the younger age groups, had significantly increased in the State. She said the use of pesticides to commit suicide was the highest in Tamil Nadu, when compared with the other States.

Rajajalakshmi Ravikumar, southern regional director of CanKids KidsCan, said there was an urgent need to take proactive measures for the early detection of cancer, as only 60% of cancer cases among children are detected at the right stage.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available at Sneha's helpline 044-24640050 and the State Government’s health helpline 104)

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:21:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-inks-mous-to-strengthen-mental-health-initiatives/article37833756.ece

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