KAMPALA: The chief executive officer of Network of Interest Lawyers; an advocate for social justice Mr. Arthur Nsereko has urged health officials who would want to offer medical treatment to patients suffering from mental health-related illness to seek their consent before doing so.
He adds that patients who are able to make decisions should be asked to give consent before being put on treatment, saying that the participation of the patient is important because it reflects a respect for human rights.
However, Nsereko said that those who are not in position to do so should be treated differently by obtaining consent from their relatives. “We acknowledge the fact that there are incidences where the person is under crisis and it is at the extreme, and even in such a case where such a person’s relative or people who know him/her can be found then we rely on those people to make those decisions, noting that health officials shouldn’t make rush decisions in total disregard or body autonomy of this person because they are also human beings with a dignity that must be protected.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics Census Report (UBOS 2016) indicated that 12.4% of the Ugandan population lives with some form of disability implying that approximately 4.5 million Ugandans are persons with disability hence a development concern.
Uganda is ranked among the top six countries in Africa in rates of depressive disorders (4.6%; Miller et al., 2020), while 2.9% live with anxiety disorders (WHO, 2017). About 5.1% of females and 3.6% of males are affected.
The situation has been worsened by the after-shocks of Covid-19 where many people lost jobs and sank into depression, drug abuse and other factors that put their lives in danger of mental breakdown.