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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 5, 2000 - Papua New Guinea Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea needs to train more psychiatric nurses and psychologists to cater for the increasing number of mentally ill people.

There are few nurses and specialists in hospitals throughout the country that can attend to these patients.

Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Isaac Ake said despite the growth and scope of primary health care services throughout the world, mental health tended to be a neglected area and remained unchanged in hospitals and other institutions.

He told Papua New Guinea's first national mental health conference in Port Moresby that there was a need for more training programs for health workers so that patients with mental and psychological problems and those with physical problems could be treated with the same health facilities.

Dr. Ake said there was also a need for the mental health division to draw up good guidelines or produce a book that could be used to address or treat patients with such disorders.

He said a recent report from the World Health Organization and the World Bank showed mental disorders made up more than 10 percent of global diseases.

Dr. Ake said mental disorders that could be treated at the primary or district health levels often co-existed with each other and with physical problems.

The disorders included depression, anxiety, alcohol use disorders, sleep disorders, unexplained somatic complaints and chronic tiredness.

Dr. Robert Lewin, a psychiatrist from Sydney, said although 25 percent of people had mental illness, there was not much attention given to the treatment of their illnesses.

Dr. Lewin said it was important for health workers to receive proper training to conduct early diagnosis. He said every doctor in PNG should have better knowledge about how to provide mental health care.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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