BADIN - Various government agencies and non-government organisations on Saturday joined hands to curb the increasing tendency in the people of Tharparkar to commit suicides by providing to them psychological counseling.

In this connection, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed here between Sindh Mental Health Authority (SMHA), Thar Foundation, Health Department of Government of Sindh, Sir Cowasjee Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Hyderabad (SCIPBS) and Liaquat University of Medical & Health Licenses (LUMHS).

The partnership is aimed at providing free of cost psychiatric counseling and treatment services to those identified as having mental disorders, follow-up meetings, provision of free medicines to them under a one-year pilot project.

As per the terms of partnership, Thar Foundation will contribute by setting up a remote counseling centre that will offer services in local language, introducing a mobile app for monitoring and reporting on potential cases and providing other logistical support to SMHA and other contributing agencies.

The MoU further states that SMHA will act as a coordinator in ensuring achievement of aims of the project and establishing Thar tele-health services connecting talukas of Thar with those of Mithi. According to the MoU, the district administration will also lend a helping hand in data collection, where and whenever needed. 

The health department will provide its infrastructure and community health workforce for training and counseling services besides provision of medicines to the vulnerable patients.

Speaking on the occasion, SMHA Chairman Senator Dr Karim Khawaja said that Tharparkar was one of those districts of Sindh where suicide cases were on the rise due to variety of psychosocial and socio-economic reasons.

MNA Dr Mahesh Malani lauded the efforts of all partnering agencies for addressing the issue of suicide in Tharparkar and coming up with a doable solution.

He said the major reason behind 80 percent of suicide cases in Thar was psychosocial and not poverty or unemployment.

Naseer Memon, General Manager of Thar Foundation, was of the view that increasing trend of committing suicides in the district necessitated an urgent attention from the authorities.

Muhammad Nawaz Soho, Deputy Commissioner Tharparkar, said that 66 cases of suicide had been reported in first half of the year, out of which 40 had been reported in non-Muslim communities.

Dr. Aijaz Qadir Patoli, Medical Superintendent of SCIPBS, was of the view that nowhere in the world, the government and institutions had addressed this challenge alone. “Apart from the implementing partners, government agencies and health institutions, members of the civil society should also contribute to curbing the increasing trend,” he added.

Vice Chancellor of LUMHS, Dr Bikha Ram was of the view that it was need of the hour to launch a tele-help, which would arrest the menace of increasing suicides. 

Dr. Sono Mal Khangarani, Chief Executive Officer of the Thardeep Microfinance Foundation was of the view that there was a need to investigate the scientific evidence behind every suicide case and develop prevention strategy. 

District Health Officer (DHO) Tharparkar Dr. Gordhan Das, MS of District Hospital Mithi Dr. Gul Munir Vistro, Dr. Bharat Kumar, In-charge of the Psychiatrist Department of District hospital Mithi, Dr. Jamil Junejo, mental health expert, Dr. Sobdar Shahani and senior officials also spoke on the occasion.