The cabinet’s social council has revealed plans to open a second children’s home in suburb Hulhumalé and a mental health hospital on the island of Guraidhoo in Kaafu atoll.
Attorney general Mohamed Anil told the press today that the second children’s home will be dedicated to children under 10 years of age whilst the existing children’s home in Vilimalé will house children over the age of 10.
Anil noted that the capacity of the Vilimalé children’s home is 40, but about 115 children are currently under state care. The number of children requiring state care has been increasing every year.
Child rights advocates have previously raised concern over the lack of staff, resources and space at the children’s home.
The government expects the new orphanage to be completed in the next two months, Anil said. A local philanthropist is funding the project, he said, but did not reveal the identity of the benefactor.
The Guraidhoo centre for the elderly and mentally ill will meanwhile be converted to a mental health hospital, Anil said. The health ministry will operate the new hospital as mental health falls under its mandate.
Senior citizens at the centre will continue to live in Guraidhoo until a new centre is built, he said.
Of the 167 patients staying at the Special Needs Home in November 2014, just 19 were psychiatric patients. The rest either homeless people or geriatrics. The center had just one doctor, and two nurses at the time. Staff have previously raised concern over psychiatric patients not being provided the opportunity to reintegrate into society.
Health minister Iruthisham Adam explained that the new mental health hospital will be staffed by doctors, counsellors, and speech therapists.
“We are trying to create a new budget, apart from the existing one passed by the Majlis, by including what is needed to repair the building and funds for human resources,” she said.
The health minister also revealed that the government has formulated a national mental health policy, which is to be shared with the relevant state institutions.