By Lydia Lakwonyero and Simon Longoli
Uganda has less than 100 clinical psychiatrists, a health official has said.
â€œAt the lower levels where cases of mental illness are common, few psychiatric officials are qualified,â€ said Dr. David Basangwa, the chairperson of the Governing Council of Psychiatric Clinical Officers.
Basangwa was on Friday speaking at the 1st graduation ceremony of psychiatric clinical officers at Butabika in Kampala.
A total of 108 mental health workers received diplomas.
According to the health ministry, 30% of the population suffers from mental illness.
The School of Psychiatric Clinical Officers Butabika is the only one of its kind in East Africa and currently has 34 students.
Basangwa said low student enrollment was one of the causes of the inadequacy.
He said the institute only accepted students with training in psychiatric nursing or other medical related courses, which limited the catchment area.
â€œEven when we advertise, those who come find the remuneration poor. So only those who are committed are willing to join,â€ Basangwa said.
â€œWe are planning to take on students from Senior Six. Otherwise in years to come, it will be impossible to produce enough psychiatric officers for the entire country.â€
Basangwa added that the institute would partner with Makerere University to offer its students degree courses and allow those with diplomas to upgrade.
The principal of the school, Hajat Museene Kisu, said they lacked resources to build more facilities and pay staff.
She said more classrooms were needed, an office block, library, Internet facilities, dining room and a kitchen.