The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is working together with St Giles Hospital and Fiji Police to assist those who are mentally challenged and living on the streets.
The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar says that currently there are no housing facilities to accommodate the mentally challenged. However, the Ministry has taken appropriate steps to provide them with medical treatment before reuniting them with their families.
As of the beginning of this year, the Ministry has taken 4 individuals off the streets of Suva and taken them to St Giles Hospital. Two of these persons who are over 60 years of age have been treated and are now back with their families in Suva. While the other two continue to receive medical treatment at St Giles, the Ministry is still trying to track their families. The medical conditions of these individuals are thoroughly assessed and monitored by St Giles Hospital before they are reunited with their families.
Minister Akbar has appealed to the families to seek help other than leaving such individuals on the streets.
“In order for the Ministry to successfully carry out its role in terms of assisting senior citizens, mentally challenged and persons living with disabilities, we need community support. I urge the families to have a caring and compassionate approach when dealing with such cases. But pushing elderly and mentally out on the streets is not a solution.
“The Ministry currently doesn’t have any housing provisions for homeless and mentally challenged. So based case assessment, the Ministry works with Hart Homes to see if spaces are available for accommodation for individuals who are homeless and found on the streets.
“The streets are not a place for any person and particularly for the mentally challenged. I also had discussions with the superintendent of Saint Giles Hospital, help is available and all that the families have to do is to take them there and see what is the best option rather than leaving them on the streets.
“We deal case by case and for addressing the issue of mentally challenged on our roads, the Ministry has a long term plan which will eventuate in the near future. But for the moment the solution is for the families to seek assistance from St Giles in getting medical treatment and the Ministry is also available for any advice and assistance that families may need to deal with such cases,” Minister Akbar explained.