DOH says open to Senate probe on 'tragic' state of National Center for Mental Health

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2023 02:23 PM

The National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City, Oct. 27, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
The National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City, Oct. 27, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of Health said on Tuesday it was ready to face any inquiry regarding the situation of the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City.

Sen. Raffy Tulfo has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the alleged "tragic condition of the patients" at the country's main government-run mental health facility.

"We are open to the investigation and we are trying to improve the situation and of course, 'yung convenience ng ating mga pasyente doon," DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

While there are challenges within the NCMH, she said the facility's situation had improved compared to previous years.

Vergeire believed Tulfo was referring to one of the pavilions at the NCMH where patients with criminal cases are staying.

She said this particular pavilion was built to house only 300 patients but had since almost doubled.

The health agency is coordinating with the Department of Justice for the possible return of patients to jail facilities.

To decongest the pavilion, the DOH has also constructed another building, the first phase of which is set to be completed by the end of April.

Funds for the second phase of the construction will be sourced from the agency's 2024 budget.

In a statement issued Monday, Tulfo said he wanted to investigate the alleged corruption in NCMH's management and identify the root causes of the problems in the institution.

"Sa sahig sila natutulog at walang banig, kumot o unan. Nagsisiksikan na parang mga sardinas at sobrang init na mistulang pugon dahil walang ventilation at kulang sa electric fan," he said.

(Patients are sleeping on the floor without even a mat, blanket or pillow. They are packed like sardines and the area is like an oven because there is no ventilation and the electric fans are not enough.)

Apart from general adult psychiatry, the NCMH also offers child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, women and children protection, and crisis management services.

Courtesy of DOH