Special Awards In Pictures

MEMBERS COUNTRY THE world over last Friday observed the 70th Anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO), an organ of the United Nations that deals with global health, under the general theme: “Depression.”

Flagging Depression should be seen as a classical expression of concern and attention to one of world’s discomforting and life-threatening health problems. By definition, Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Though treatable, Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, feeling sad or having a depressed mood.

A MAJOR HEALTH dilemma, about three hundred million people the world over, which is about 4% of the world’s population, are suffering varying forms of Depression, according to the WHO. It is a staggering figure that speaks to the seriousness of the ‘menace’ on people of the world, some of whom are already enduing other forms of harsh health, social and political conditions with no solutions in sight.

HERE IN LIBERIA, the picture as provided is equally nauseating and a cause for concerns. Providing an insight into Depression recently, Deputy Health Minister (Chief Medical Officer of Liberia) Dr. Francis Ketah put the number of Liberians, based on rough calculation, suffering from Depression related issues at 150 million. “Depression is very critical to us, as Liberians,” the Chief Medical Officer said. “The calculation for us as Liberians got be increased because we have gone through two major incidents, the civil war and Ebola.” During and after the Civil War, Counselling was not done for many of those that were victims, and even those who were bystanders, seeing what was going on.” He said this had psychological impact on them.

PUTTING DR. KETAH’S revelation into context brings out the raw reality of where Liberia is; a seeming health time-bomb that could explode beyond control. There are glaring indicators that Liberia is embattled with Depression. Besides those already who are stoned-mad, some of which are attributable to some form of Depression suffered, there are diurnal occurrences, such as the financial burdens Liberians continue to bear that could potentiate the situation. Unarguably, those who find themselves in these conditions are tacitly trekking toward Depression or, perhaps, are already depressive.

WE WANT TO congratulate the WHO for the decision to flag Depression as the theme for the observance of its 70th anniversary. Such a thoughtful consideration cannot be overemphasized in highlighting the importance of the contributions it has made and continues to make to the stabilization and control of global health outbreaks. We vividly recall WHO’s role in the control and stabilization of the Ebola Virus Disease which ravaged our country two years ago and sent thousands of citizens to their unprepared-for graves. So also are the efforts currently being applied to find remedies to other global health problems such as HIV, Zika virus, Tuberculosis, Cancer and many other diseases.

LIBERIA, AS FAR as the records are concerned played a significantly pivotal role in the founding of the WHO. We are told that Dr. J.N. Togba (deceased), the first Liberian medical doctor, was one of the signatories to the founding of the WHO. It means that Liberia has been working with the WHO in the fight of diseases in a bid to keep its citizens safe and protected.

IT IS AGAINST this backdrop, we draw the audacity to continue to urge our government, regardless what the constraints are, to press forth with programs that put citizens in the positions of understanding the threats they face daily with their health. We think it is an obligation bequeathed upon us that we urge our government through the Ministry of Health to elevate its attention to this colossal health problem (Depression) which is already telling on Liberians. Now that it is aware of its impact on the citizens makes it, in our view, a wake-up- call duty so that it doesn’t get out hands.

THE MENTAL HEALTH Department at the Ministry, if was less attended to, should be given supported needed, logistic and human, to rise above the situation. The challenges faced are glaring in the growing number of Liberians roaming the streets ‘crazy.’ The time is ripe that Depression forms part of government’s overall healthcare agenda so that citizens are spared any potential consequences.

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