On the 15th December 2020, the paradigm began to shift around mental health care patients in Seychelles.
A new law law, entirely consistent with the convention on the rights of persons living with disability, came in force.
The dignity and autonomy of persons with mental illnesses will henceforth be valued more than ever before. They will be treated as equal members of society and will be accorded the same right as other citizens to participate in their own care.
“They will always be able to make the important decisions that concern them,” said Dr. B Valentin, Chairman of the Mental Health Board and of Seychelles Patients Association.
Aided by a slew of expert international partners, the drafting of the new law took several years to complete.
In April 2018, Marie Bernadette Faure, a health care assistant of the North East Point Health Care Complex won the Ministry of Health’s staff award for person centred care. She was considered by all to be extremely deserving of the award because of her life-long commitment to demonstrating compassion, good communication with patients and colleagues about the care of patients and putting her patients need before her own needs.
At the initiation of Dr Bernard Valentin, (who declared himself more a patient than a doctor for the purposes of this Association), around twenty men and women from inside and outside of the Ministry of Health and from all walks of life, joined together on April 6th 2015 to form the first Seychelles Patients Association.
The Association intended to advocate for patients across all disease spectra. Seychelles Patients Association will be the first such association in Seychelles, given that the other patient advocacy associations in Seychelles (such as the Seychelles Diabetes Society, Cancer Concern Association, Pearl Seychelles Autism Association) have tended to focus on one disease only.
At the meeting on the 6th April, attendees agreed that the Association will not seek to antagonize care giving institutions but will work hand in hand with them to improve care quality.
1. From where Seychelles Patients Association will actively promote patient-centered care throughout the health care system and support the interests of patients in every way possible. It will be a support centre, a resource centre and an administrative centre, all at the same time.
2. Where Patients and relatives of patients can retreat to, for support, further advice or counseling should they require, after receiving bad health care news
3. Where Activities of different patient support groups will be coordinated
4. Where Patients can call to, to receive, through agreed mechanisms, accurate and detailed information about any aspect of the health care system and health care processes.
It is projected that the Patient Advocacy Centre will be manned by a paid administrative assistant and by volunteers who are able and willing to dedicate their time and effort to this cause.
“Seychelles Patient Association will help patients navigate better through the health system and hopefully, by so doing, reduce the number of complaints at service points,” a high official of the Association has said.