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While there is some level of interplay between the judiciary and medical professionals when it comes to dealing with mentally unstable individuals, there is yet need for careful revision of legislation that relates to this issue.  At least this is according to Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, during an interview with this publication.Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo PersaudMoreover, there is currently a Draft revised Mental Health Act, which according to Persaud, is being taken through its final stages of consultation.  The existing Act this publication was informed is currently so outdated that it doesn’t permit the leverage to effectively tackle certain situations involving persons who manifest mental instability.For instance, the law in its current form won’t afford either the Health Ministry or the Human Services Ministry, the power to independently remove a mentally unstable person from the streets as a precautionary measure. This disclosure was in fact made by the Health Ministry’s Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Joseph Hamilton, who informed this publication that since such an undertaking requires an extensive legal process “these ministries together can’t go on the road and pick up these people…The police can however intervene if the person is violent.”Hamilton’s disclosure had in fact come mere months after a reportedly mentally-ill male vagrant physically attacked a schoolboy in the vicinity of Parliament Square as he headed to the Brickdam Secondary School.Understandably, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Jennifer Webster, had countered that it wasn’t the role of her Ministry to deal with the mentally challenged, when questioned about the incident.But even as he acknowledged that mental illness falls under the purview of the Health Ministry, Hamilton disclosed that “the big elephant in the room is legislation.”In fact he told this publication that the existing Mental Health Legislation currently requires that a relative of a suspected mentally challenged individual appear before a Magistrate or Judge in a court of law and swear to their mental condition before that individual could be committed to psychiatric care.So it was no surprise that although the vagrant was taken into police custody he was back on the streets a few days later.According to Hamilton, not even the CMO, who is considered the top medical professional of the country, has the authority to assemble and commit persons of unsound mind without legal action being taken. Moreover, he emphasised that legislation is a primary problem that must be dealt with urgently.As such Dr Persaud is optimistic that the ongoing efforts to revise the legislation will take into consideration the current state of affairs. “I hope that all of that is included in the new proposed strategy that is being worked on,” said the CMO who pointed out that the issue of mental health is one that has been gaining immense attention from the Ministry of Health.Parliamentary Secretary,Mr Joseph HamiltonAnd since mental health is regarded as a “high agenda” item, Dr Persaud amplified the need for strategic approaches to mental health, which according to him, must include laws or the legal system being put in place urgently to address situations that may arise.  “The bottom line is that you want to help these people, but you also have to protect the public…I think that is the point that comes out so clearly – that the people who are at risk must be protected,” added Dr Persaud.The revising of the Mental Health Act is among a few others, gaining the attention of Hamilton, including a new one which speaks to the operation of nurses and midwives which is intended to repeal the 1959 Nurses’ Ordinance, according to Persaud. Other proposed legislations being scrutinised by the Parliamentary Secretary are: the Health Promotion and Protection Bill,NFL Jerseys Wholesale, which is designed to replace the Public Health Ordinance of 1934 and the new Tobacco Control Legislation, the CMO added.
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