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Knowledge about mental health still lacks: Dr Moji

Ntsoaki Motaung

Dementia Lesotho held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and celebrated the International Dementia Day on 19th September in Maseru.

Dementia Day is normally celebrated internationally on September 21 and this year was celebrated under the theme “Know Dementia, know Alzheimer’s” centered around 10 warning signs of dementia and the importance of a timely diagnosis.

It is during the celebration where the President of Dementia Lesotho Dr Chale Moji indicated that, in Lesotho there is still a huge lack of knowledge about mental health or Dementia as well as Alzheimer’s.

“As a country we are still lagging behind in the knowledge of Dementia and mental health. There is a huge shortage of specialist on mental health issues and I plead with the government to train doctors about mental health so that at the end we will have specialists. Not only does knowledge lack on the general population but also on our health professionals,” he said.

Moji stated that Dementia continues to affect many people worldwide but people show no interest in knowing about the disease.

“That is why there is still stigma around the mental health issues because people lack knowledge. People with dementia get killed or abused by the society as a result of lack of knowledge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Retšelisitsoe Tšoinyane an independent Social Worker, indicated that there are three stages of Dementia being mild, moderate and severe.

“On a mild stage, it is difficult to spot symptoms. The person experiencing it may still be capable of living independently. On moderate stage the symptoms are more clearly visible and often last the longest and can stretch over the course of several years while people who reach severe stage of dementia often need high levels of care and may eventually become totally dependent on caregivers for support,” she said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing.

“Currently more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.

“Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally. It has physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia, but also for their careers, families and society at large,” says WHO.      

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