Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2013 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Four per cent of T&T s popula-
tion experience suicidal thoughts,
says Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan.
Global statistics, he added, had
shown depression claimed 3,000
The minister was speaking at a
seminar yesterday, titled Addressing
Depression and Mental Health at the
Workplace, hosted by the Employers
Solution Centre, Aranguez.
"Four per cent of our population
experiences suicidal thoughts, and
that is high, and when you look at
that and you do the maths, you
would find that out of the four per
cent, a large amount is working peo-
ple," the Health Minister said.
He said the four per cent included
children who suffered from depres-
Saying there had been recent dis-
cussions about the social determi-
nants of health, Khan said there were
factors which caused unhealthy pat-
terns of behaviour that ultimately
reduced a country to poverty.
"Believe it or not, depression and
mental illnesses rank high in those
strata of social determinants. If
somebody cannot function at work,
then they would have to be removed.
That person may be the only bread-
winner of a family.
"So it works out as a social deter-
minant of health. If there is four per
cent of the population, at that level
the financial cost to a country is
People who suffered from mental
illnesses, however, were still stig-
matised by wider society. Families
of those people were also shunned
and deemed "mad", he said.
Khan said the Health Ministry
was trying its best to destigmatise
mental illness through educational
"Employees in any working envi-
ronment are the best and biggest
assets of a workplace. If the employee
is not functioning properly, that
company would not be moving as
effectively as it should and profits
He said part of the ministry s
agenda also was tackling addiction,
which sometimes went hand-in-
hand with mental illnesses.
"When a person is depressed or
is swinging from highs to lows, that
person is placed on medication if
diagnosed properly, or might take
drugs or alcohol to feel better.
"It could also be prescription drug
abuse. Not only do we have to
address mental problems, we also
have to address the treatment aspect
He said the ministry would seek
to establish therapy centres in Caura,
Couva and Arima which would serve
as rehabilitation facilties.
"These would be first-world,
state-of-the art rehabilitation centres
rather than places for in-house
"People must not be ashamed
because they have a mental illness."
He added there also were plans
to construct an adolescent and child
trauma centre, specifically targeting
children with psychiatric problems.
Suicide on their minds
...says minister about 4% of T&T's population
Health Minister Fuad
Khan said yesterday the
upgrade to the women s
hospital in Mt Hope
could cost about $2 mil-
lion but added the Gov-
ernment would put in
whatever was needed.
"Whatever the cost we
will put it in. It is to carry
down the mortality rate
of mothers at the hospi-
Khan said that while
touring the hospital yes-
terday morning to view
upgrades, such as a
a repaired fountain, air-
conditioning units in the
library and offices and a
transformer to increase
the hospital s power sup-
"The Mt Hope
Women s Hospital is
going to be refurbished
to such an extent that no
further work will be
needed in the next ten
Khan said the work
done at the hospital was
completed by in-house
staff to save money that
would have been spent
The work so far cost
Khan said the North
Central Regional Health
would see renovations in
Caura and the Eric
Williams Medical Sci-
"Caura needs the same
kind of upgrade. We are
going to use in-house
staff to deal with Caura
and open it up to differ-
ent services," he said.
He said the ministry
had earmarked a chil-
Govt to bring down mortality
rate at women's hospital
Finance and the Economy Minister Larry
Howai said Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
was invited to the arrivals of US Vice President
Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping dur-
ing their recent visits to T&T.
He was responding to newspaper reports
which said Rowley was not invited. Howai said
he had evidence to show he was.
Howai was presenting the Customs Amend-
ment Bill for debate in the Senate.
Minutes later, Opposition Senator Faris Al-
Rawi dismissed Howai s claim, insisting Rowley
had not been invited by the Government.
Howai said the legislation was intended to
establish stiff penalties for offences committed
under the proposed legislation.
But Al-Rawi said the bill was intended to
benefit trade and not necessarily address issues
affecting customs officers.
He said there were no similar penalties for
offences in any other country in the world and
many provisions in the bill already existed in
Al-Rawi said the Opposition was prepared
to sit with the Government to improve the law
to make it work.
"We are on the wrong track," he said.
was invited to
Biden, Xi visits
dren s psychiatry unit and
other units for Caura.
"We hope to look into
the idea of making the
NCRHA the teaching
hospital centre for
research and develop-
ment in the country."
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan is assisted by chairman of the North Central
Regional Health Authority Dr Shehenaz Mohammed, as he cuts the ribbon
yesterday to commission a generator at the Mt Hope Maternity Hospital.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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