Consultant Psychiatrist at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) Dr. Griffin Benjamin has called for a larger slice of the national health budget to be spent on mental health.
Dr. Benjamin was addressing the eighth annual University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Dominica Bernard A. Sorhaindo Memorial Lecture on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at the Fort Young Hotel Conference Room.
He argued that in Canada and the United States of America, mental health budget is over 20 percent of the national health budget and according him, a report from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), pointed to the low level of spending on mental health in the Caribbean.
“In 2007, Barbados spent seven percent of its health budget on mental health, and subsided to outspend all the other islands in the Caribbean. Montserrat, a British colony did similar,” the Psychiatrist noted.
He questioned why Dominica spends only two percent of its health budget on mental health.
“Dominica spent only two percent of its health budget dealing with mental health,” he stated. “Why are we spending only two percent of our health budget on mental health, when mental health accounts for as much as 24 percent of the disease burden in the Americas? For a dollar that is spent, one quarter of that needs to be spent on mental health. Most of you might not agree at this point but the outcome, the consequences, is vagrancy.”
He pointed out that “the most blessed thing about mental health care is that most of the treatment and medical care needed by our patients can be obtained right here in Dominica.”
Benjamin delivered the lecture under the topic: Health Care & the New Frontier: Can people in the vagrant community overcome rejection?
The series of lectures was named after Dr. Bernard Sorhaindo, Dominica’s first graduate of The UWI and one of the country’s most celebrated medical doctors who was also an advocate for the availability of proper health care facilities and personnel in order to improve the quality of life of Dominicans.
The lecture was done in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Dominica, and Optical Services Ltd. and Dominica Social Security.