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Government needs to raise the priority of the mental health sector

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 13/10/2017


Tongas first mental health symposium, the Langi Ma’a: Mental Health and Disability Symposium concluded yesterday after a successful week of presentations and discussions.


Speaking at the symposium, Dr. Mapa Puloka, head of the psychiatric ward of Vaiola Hospital, said a multi-faceted approach is needed where legal, health, and education sectors work together to treat people dealing with mental illnesses.


Dr. Puloka said, compared to when he first started working in the psychiatric ward over 20 years ago, the number of patients are much higher now.


After an incident in August, where one patient killed another, a number of changes have been implemented in the psychiatric ward.


Dr. Puloka said their unit is now only concerned with acute psychiatric emergencies and also only cases referred from the courts and the prison and the police but gradually the number of admissions in the ward, has been increasing.


The number of patients currently on the unit’s register is about over 2,000 and the number of patients that they are actually able to follow up is 120 in the community.


He also said up to 60 percent of cases he saw were drug related.


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