Gabon is a country with an approximate area of 268 thousand sq. km. (UNO, 2001). Its population is 1.352 million, and the sex ratio (men per hundred women) is 99 (UNO, 2004). The proportion of population under the age of 15 years is 40% (UNO, 2004), and the proportion of population above the age of 60 years is 6% (WHO, 2004). The literacy rate is 74% for men and 53% for women (UNESCO/MoH, 2004).
The country is a higher middle income group country (based on World Bank 2004 criteria). The proportion of health budget to GDP is 3.6%. The per capita total expenditure on health is 197 international $, and the per capita government expenditure on health is 94 international $ (WHO, 2004). The main language(s) used in the country is (are) French (official), Fang, Punu and Nzèbi. The largest ethnic group(s) is (are) Fang, and the other ethnic group(s) are (is) Shira-Punu, Nzèbi-Duma, Mbede-Teke, Kota-Kele and Myène. The largest religious group(s) is (are) Roman Catholic (more than half), and the other religious group(s) are (is) Protestant and Muslim. The life expectancy at birth is 57.3 years for males and 61.4 years for females (WHO, 2004). The healthy life expectancy at birth is 50 years for males and 53 years for females (WHO, 2004).
There is a paucity of epidemiological data on mental illnesses in Gabon in internationally accessible literature. In a hospital based study, Mboussou and Milebou-Aubusson (1989) reported 39 cases of suicides and 208 attempted suicides. No gender difference was observed in those completing suicide, but the male to female ratio among those who attempted suicide was 3:1. Ingestion of chloroquin was the commonest method of committing suicide.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Mental Health Policy A mental health policy is absent.
Substance Abuse Policy A substance abuse policy is absent.
National Mental Health Programme A national mental health programme is absent.
National Therapeutic Drug Policy/Essential List of Drugs A national therapeutic drug policy/essential list of drugs is present. It was formulated in 1983.
Mental Health Legislation There is no existing mental health legislation, but one is being formulated. Details about the year of enactment of the mental health legislation are not available.
Mental Health Financing There are budget allocations for mental health. The country spends 0.3% of the total health budget on mental health. The primary sources of mental health financing in descending order are tax based, out of pocket expenditure by the patient or family, private insurances, social insurance and grants. The country does not have disability benefits for persons with mental disorders. No benefits are present except where mental disorders result from industrial accidents.
Mental Health Facilities Mental health is a part of primary health care system. Actual treatment of severe mental disorders is available at the primary level. Treatment for the unemployed villagers is present. Regular training of primary care professionals is not carried out in the field of mental health.
There are community care facilities for patients with mental disorders.
Psychiatric Beds and Professionals
Total psychiatric beds per 10 000 population
Psychiatric beds in mental hospitals per 10 000 population
Psychiatric beds in general hospitals per 10 000 population
Psychiatric beds in other settings per 10 000 population
Number of psychiatrists per 100 000 population
Number of neurosurgeons per 100 000 population
Number of psychiatric nurses per 100 000 population
Number of neurologists per 100 000 population
Number of psychologists per 100 000 population
Number of social workers per 100 000 population
There is a need to have training centres for health workers in the field of mental health.
Non-Governmental Organizations NGOs are involved with mental health in the country. They are mainly involved in advocacy, promotion, prevention and rehabilitation.
Information Gathering System There is no mental health reporting system in the country. The national health reporting system is being finalized. The country has no data collection system or epidemiological study on mental health. There is a lack of logistics to allow such data collection.
Programmes for Special Population The country has specific programmes for mental health for indigenous population. Due to a lack of technical people and resources it is not possible to have services for all special groups of population.Therapeutic Drugs The following therapeutic drugs are generally available at the primary health care level of the country: carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin sodium, amitriptyline, chlorpromazine, diazepam, fluphenazine, haloperidol.