The centre will also serve as a teaching hospital
The First Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre at Debre Tabor Medical College in Amhara Regional State.
The first dedicated mental health care centre in Amhara Regional State has opened in Debre Tabor town with an investment of 45.6 million Br.
Inaugurated on November 28, 2019, the centre is the third mental health care facility in the country along with Meqaomia Community Development Organization in Meqelle and Amanuel Mental Hospital in the capital.
Debre Tabor University built the centre in collaboration with Debre Tabor Comprehensive Hospital. The facility is also designed to serve as a teaching hospital. The four-storey building rests on 1,323Sqm of land inside the premises of Debre Tabor Medical College.
The basement of the building, which has seven rooms, will be used for mental health rehabilitation and each room is expected to serve five to eight patients at once. Currently, the centre has 14 beds but plans to expand to 35. The building is equipped with microbiology, haematology and proctology laboratories.
It is equipped with sports facilities like basketball, table tennis and art class that will help patients to spend their time engaged in different activities. It also has space for group therapy where patients discuss in groups of five to ten people.
The first up to the fourth floor of the building is designated as classrooms for the medical students. In addition, it has a skill lab and problem-based learning classes for medical students.
Medical doctors of Debre Tabor Comprehensive Hospital, which has been serving the community since 1930, will give treatment to patients and teach the students as well.
Abay Demse Construction, a local construction firm that is currently constructing the 1.8-billion-Br Debre Tabor Referral Hospital with another three firms, worked on the building with the supervision of CIVIS, another local consultancy firm.
It will serve as a hub of mental health care and a destination for researchers, students and volunteers of psychiatry according to Anegagregn Gashaw, president at Debre Tabor University, which secured a budget of 901 million Br this fiscal year.
Anegagregn also mentioned that cash flow was the major challenge for the management of the University while constructing the centre.
The centre has arrived at an opportune time in the country, which has an estimated 15pc of its population affected by major mental illness or substance abuse disorders, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Amanuel Mental Hospital had been serving as the only state-owned psychiatric facility in Ethiopia for decades with 300 beds, serving more than 1,000 people a day. Eleven years ago, Meqaomia Community Development Organization joined Amanuel with 30 beds that serve more than 700 patients a year.
Elias Kalayu, executive director at Meqaomia, is excited about the new rehabilitation centre. "The opening of the new centre shows that emphasis has been given to mental health," said Elias.
Sewbesew Itayih (MD), an assistant professor at the University of Gonder, applauds the construction of the facility but notes that work on subastance abuse prevention should get more focus in general, since the number of addicts has increased heavily, according to him.
"The Ministry of Health and regional health bureau should collaborate to reduce the number of addictions," he said. "It is clear that the problem of addiction is spreading, and there is a shortage of recovery centres in the country."