One out of every 100 adults in Bangladesh suffers from schizophrenia, said psychiatrists unveiling guidelines for schizophrenia patients.
The guidelines were revealed at an event arranged by the Bangladesh Association of Psychiatrists (BPA) in collaboration with Sun Pharmaceuticals on Sunday (24 April), in the Intercontinental Hotel, Dhaka.
Minister of Health Zahid Malek was the chief guest during the event, said a press release issued by the Ministry of Health.
Prof Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director-general of the Department of Health, was present as a special guest. Also present on the occasion were psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health professionals, and senior officials from the health ministry and directorate.
Tariqul Rahman, the association's general secretary, presided over the occasion, while Brig General (Retd) Professor Md Azizul Islam delivered the welcome address.
Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed delivered the keynote address stating that between 40% and 43% of patients admitted to the country's two state-run mental hospitals suffer from schizophrenia.
He said that the guideline was developed to aid patients in upazilas.
The speakers emphasised the importance of the initiative and said that five more critical disease guidelines are now awaiting release.
The special guest of the ceremony, Professor Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam said, "BPA has worked diligently to formulate this guideline. The Department of Health will strive for the guideline to be used by everyone even in the upazila level. Arrangements should be made to convey this guideline to all concerned including medical surgeons of all districts and medical colleges."
Additionally, the director-general of the Department of Health remarked about psychiatrists' critical role in the treatment of those suffering from post-Covid mental illnesses.
Speaking as the chief guest, Health Minister Zahid Malek lauded the initiative of the association and said, "The country is making strides in terms of health care. There have been no Covid deaths in the country after effective treatment."
"As mental illness is becoming more prevalent globally, it is also becoming more prevalent in Bangladesh. Many individuals are averse to seeking treatment owing to societal stigma. Each year, between 17,000 and 20,000 people commit suicide as a result of mental illness. Depression contributes to a variety of social and familial difficulties," he added.
He said the government has enacted a mental health law, and the work on expanding mental health institutions has begun.
"Pabna Mental Hospital is undergoing expansion. Throughout the country, the health system is being decentralised. The government intends to establish mental health sections in each of the eight hospitals in 8 divisions. All patients with schizophrenia must be treated. We are also making necessary arrangements for the doctors to give high-quality services," he added.