Reuters, May 5, 2008
Rampant depression, drugs scar Afghan population
66 per cent of Afghans suffer from depression or some form of mental disorder
Scarred by decades of turmoil and grief, 66 per cent of Afghans suffer from depression or some form of mental disorder, and an increasing number are turning to illegal drugs, a top health official said.
Afghan deputy health minister for technical affairs Faizullah Kakar said mental illness and drug abuse were the most urgent health problems that the country now needs to tackle.
In Afghanistan, 1,600 women die of complications out of every 100,000 live births, one of the worst rates in the world. Of every 1,000 newborn babies, 128 will not live beyond a year.
Reuters, April 26, 2008
"It's like a bunch of very dry wood, something very little can ignite a population that's depressed (resulting in violence). It affects many institutions, people in government, parliament," Kakar said in an interview.
"Sixty-six per cent doesn't spare those of us who work in the government, it affects progress. Depressed people don't like to work. The immediate problems are suicide . . . family violence, drug addiction," he said over the weekend.
"Depressed people like to take drugs and they get more depressed, it's a vicious cycle, this is what we see in Afghanistan. Drugs have mixed up with depression and we have an expansion of the number of people who are at risk."
Afghanistan is the world's number one producer of opium, from which heroin is derived. It had an estimated 920,000 drug addicts a few years ago. "This may be greater now," Kakar said.
With only two psychiatrists working in the state sector in a country of 26 million people, it is hard to imagine how Afghanistan can cope.
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