The 2016-2025 Mental Health Policy of The Gambia draft document is being reviewed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with partners.
It stated: “Communities in The Gambia are faced with numerous, mental, neurological, and psychosocial disorders that undermine development. Based on prevalence rates from the World Mental Health Survey, 2004 it is estimated that approximately 27,000 people in The Gambia (or 3 percent of the population aged 15 years and more) is suffering from a severe mental disorder and a further 91,000 (or 10 percent of the population aged 15 years and more) are suffering from moderate to mild mental disorder. This means that at least 118,000 people in The Gambia (or 13 percent of the adult population) are likely to be affected by mental disorders which require varying degrees of treatment and care.
“The above figures may even underestimate the prevalence rates in The Gambia. A situational analysis of the mental health problem in the urban and rural populations of The Gambia report conducted by Olufemi Morakinyo (Mental Health Consultant), Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Mental Health Obafemi Awolowo University, ILE-IFE, Nigeria, stated that the prevalence rate of the somatoform disorders among adults aged 15 and above was estimated to be 7.5 percent, followed by mood disorder – 6 percent, and anxiety related disorders 5.2 percent. These three, account for a prevalence rate of almost 20 percent one out of every 5 persons aged 15 or more. This is comparable to other developing countries including Nigeria and Uganda.
“Drugs and alcohol abuse were also highlighted as increasingly serious mental health issues in The Gambia, with 6-8 persons out of every 100 in Kanifing and Kombo North District categorised as alcoholics. Use of illicit drugs was also noted to be high, though likely under-reported at an average of 5 percent, with rates as high as 10 percent in Kombo Central. 37 percent of prison inmates interviewed reported illicit drug use report of 1994 –1996 nationwide pilot study.
"There is a large gap between the numbers of people affected by a mental disorder and those receiving treatment. While the prevalence rate is estimated to be between 27,300 (severe disorders) and 91,000 (all mental disorders), the maximum number of people receiving treatment in 2005 was estimated to be 3,278. In the years 2003 and 2005 there were approximately 1,207 and 1, 424 annual admissions for treatment to the Campama psychiatric unit of the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital respectively. Additionally, a total number of 1,654 to 1,854 patients received outpatient treatment in the five divisions for the years 2004 and 2005 respectively.
"In 2003, the total admission at the then psychiatry unit (Campama) was 1207 patients. Of this total figure, 449 were new admissions and 758 were read missions. Out of which a total of 762 were discharged home, 4 of the patients passed away and 101 absconded. 864 were Gambians and 342 were non-Gambians. The records for the year 2004 were not available in the Hospital records office. In 2005 1,424 patients were admitted out of which 5 patients passed away. 732 were discharged home while 104 absconded.
"In 2007, the Campama Psychiatric Unit was relocated and renamed as Tanka-Tanka Psychiatry Hospital. The records from Health Management and Information System at the Ministry of health from 2004 to 2005 in the five divisions show that a total of 1,654 and 1,954 patients were registered at the general out-patients departments for the years 2004 and 2005 respectively."