By Kevin Okunzuwa
Benin, Oct. 10, 2020 Gov. Godwin Obaseki has advocated a broader stakeholder engagement and more investments into the health sector so as to appropriately respond to mental and other health issues.
Obaseki made the call on Saturday in Benin in his message to commemorate the World Mental Health Day.
“The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic dealt a huge blow to our mental health as it did to the global economy.
“However, this is not the time to blame anyone. It is a time to expand the list of stakeholders in our global health system for more ideas and funding.
“With COVID-19, we have all come to the realisation that much more attention must be given to the health sector so that it can withstand future pandemics of same or higher scale.
“Big and small businesses, national and sub-national governments, multilateral organisations, development partners, rights groups, health professionals, religious and other groups and individuals all have roles to play toward creating a robust health system.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated that no one is insulated in the event of a pandemic, so we all must come together with our resources to fortify the global health system,” Obaseki said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this year’s World Mental Health Day comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The past months have brought many challenges for health-care workers. They provide care in difficult circumstances; they go to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home.
“Students are adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their future.
“For workers whose livelihoods are threatened and for the vast number of people caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19, and for people with mental health conditions, many are experiencing even greater social isolation than before.
“This is to say nothing of managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye.”
The global body added that the economic consequences of the pandemic were already being felt as companies had sacked a lot of their workers in an effort to save their businesses, while others had shut down completely.
“Given past experience of emergencies, it is expected that the need for mental health and psycho-social support will substantially increase in the coming months and years.
“Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than ever.
“This is why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is `increased investment in mental health,” the world health body said.