Drastic increase of patients connected to illicit drug use at Saint Giles Hospital
Only 85 nurses at the facility which needs 200

Drastic increase of patients connected to illicit drug use at Saint Giles Hospital

Only 85 nurses at the facility which needs 200

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 17/05/2024
Saint Giles Hospital Medical Superintendent, Doctor Balram Pandit

It is time to act now to deal with the drug problem in the country as facilities like Saint Giles Hospital, which is the only psychiatric hospital in Fiji, is recording a drastic increase in substance abuse cases.

The facility also needs 200 nurses to provide adequate services however it has been confirmed that they only have less than 85 nurses.

While speaking during the Ministry of Home Affairs Responding To The Illicit Drugs Situation in Fiji, Saint Giles Hospital Medical Superintendent, Doctor Balram Pandit says last year, they had more than 8,000 visits compared to about 6,000 in previous years.

He says visitations have doubled to the hospital compared to the last 10 years.

In January alone this year, they had 103 in-patients relating to substance abuse that are severely ill and need to be admitted.

Previously, there was an average of 20 to 30 in-patients per month relating to substance abuse while drugs with depression and other mental illnesses had average figures of 30 to 40 patients.

Doctor Pandit says the more common substance being abused used to be alcohol but this year it is marijuana, methamphetamine and then alcohol.

He says he is concerned about the safety of the nurses as the cases are increasing but the compliment of nurses is inadequate. Doctor Pandit says they are trying to recruit as many people as possible but we are also losing people to migration.

Doctor Pandit says the first focus should be on health promotion and prevention if you really want to have control of things.

He says there are people who may not know the information on the risks associated with drugs and there are people who are at risk who know of the availability of drugs.

Doctor Pandit adds that strengthening social capital is really important and it can start with having strong families including 3 generation families.

He says it is important to realize that spending time with children secures the bond and the family, and the churches and the community need to come together.

The Medical Superintendent says mental health problem is already seen as a silent pandemic.

He says we cannot afford to leave these things to the health sector alone.

He adds that separation, divorce and death of a parent can result in anxious traits or disorganized traits which can result in additional mental problems.

Doctor Pandit highlighted sometimes adults and children live in the same home but they don’t have time for each other.

He says broken families can also result in making children more vulnerable.

Click here for more stories from the Talanoa Session on Illicit Drugs and Substance Use Disorders in Fiji

Click here for stories on the Drugs Situation in Fiji

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