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Cape Verde is a country with an approximate area of 4 thousand sq. km. (UNO, 2001). The country is an archipelago with mostly mountainous islands. Its population is 0.472 million, and the sex ratio (men per hundred women) is 92 (UNO, 2004). The proportion of population under the age of 15 years is 38% (UNO, 2004), and the proportion of population above the age of 60 years is 6% (WHO, 2004). The literacy rate is 85.4% for men and 68% for women (UNESCO/MoH, 2004).

The country is a lower middle income group country (based on World Bank 2004 criteria). The proportion of health budget to GDP is 4.5%. The per capita total expenditure on health is 165 international $, and the per capita government expenditure on health is 138 international $ (WHO, 2004). The main language(s) used in the country is (are) Portuguese and Criuolo. The largest ethnic group(s) is (are) Creole, and the other ethnic group(s) are (is) African. The largest religious group(s) is (are) Roman Catholic, and the other religious group(s) are (is) indigenous groups. The life expectancy at birth is 66.6 years for males and 72.9 years for females (WHO, 2004). The healthy life expectancy at birth is 59 years for males and 63 years for females (WHO, 2004).


There is a paucity of epidemiological data on mental illnesses in Cape Verde in internationally accessible literature. Neto and Barros (2000) assessed loneliness in students from Cape Verde and Portugal using standardized instruments. They found loneliness to be associated with neuroticism and dissatisfaction with life.


Mental Health Policy A mental health policy is absent. The national health policy covers some aspects of mental health.

Substance Abuse Policy A substance abuse policy is present. The policy was initially formulated in 1996.

National Mental Health Programme A national mental health programme is present. The programme was formulated in 1986.

National Therapeutic Drug Policy/Essential List of Drugs A national therapeutic drug policy/essential list of drugs is present. It was formulated in 1979.

Mental Health Legislation Some old laws dating back to the pre-independence period, i.e. prior to 1975 do exist, but there is no legislation after that period except one on restriction on tobacco consumption of 1995. The latest legislation was enacted in 1975.

Mental Health Financing There are budget allocations for mental health. Details about expenditure on mental health are not available. The primary source of mental health financing is tax based. The country has disability benefits for persons with mental disorders. Disability benefits for Government employees exist in the form that they are allowed to draw their salaries in spite of not working.

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. Patients are treated by admission to hospital. Rehabilitation is done with the help of family support. Regular training of primary care professionals is carried out in the field of mental health.

There are no 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

  • 0.78
  • 0
  • 0.78
  • 0
  • 0.9
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0.9
  • 0.2

Occupational therapy is present at the Centre for Occupational Therapy. Only one occupational therapist is present.

Non-Governmental Organizations NGOs are involved with mental health in the country. They are mainly involved in advocacy and prevention.

Information Gathering System There is mental health reporting system in the country. The country has no data collection system or epidemiological study on mental health. The central hospitals have systems of registering admissions/discharges of inpatients. Hospital data from the central hospital is collected.

Programmes for Special Population There are no special programmes for any specified population.

Therapeutic Drugs The following therapeutic drugs are generally available at the primary health care level of the country: carbamazepine, ethosuximide, phenobarbital, phenytoin sodium, sodium valproate, amitriptyline, chlorpromazine, diazepam, fluphenazine, haloperidol, biperiden, carbidopa, levodopa.

Source: World Health Organization Mental Health Atlas