OFWs in Kuwait urged to avail of free telepsychiatry services

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its project with the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), is inviting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait to avail of free telepsychiatry services.

The project aims to see telepsychiatry’s acceptance among OFWs. A survey will be conducted among participants to know their satisfaction and recommendation to improve the program, said project manager Lemuel Lozada in an interview with the Philippine News Agency Wednesday afternoon.

DOST’s attached agency, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) has allocated over PHP5.2 million for this project, initially for one year.

“Any OFW who has yet to consult a psychiatrist, or is interested to consult one, could give an informed consent to avail of the telepsychiatry services. They could avail of several consultations, depending on the recommendation of the psychiatrist,” he said.

Lozada said they try to accommodate everyone who tries to avail of the service. An average of five to 10 OFWs have been consulting since the services started during Ramadan this year.

“The project is just starting so the number of OFWs who avail of the services is still low. Our project members as well as the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) continue to urge them so we are expecting that the number would increase,” he said.

At present, the DOST is only conducting this in Kuwait, basing it on the number of OFWs there and OWWA Kuwait’s record on mental health concerns.

He clarified that the project is using a specific system, and not just any other online platform or telephone.

“We are using a telepsychiatry system that includes the patient information and medical records while availing the telepsychiatry. It also includes the video consultation platform and the survey, so this has to be a secured platform,” he explained.

Lozada said that in 2020, the SPMC, which made the system, also had a telepsychiatry services project with a hospital in Cagayan de Oro that was also funded by the PCHRD.

“It had a good feedback from the patients, and the SPMC submitted a proposal to do this project in other countries to cater to the OFWs,” he said.

Psychiatrists working on this project are from the SPMC and the Department of Health, which also provides medicines based on the psychiatrists’ recommendations.

The system, on the other hand, is put in place in OWWA Kuwait, and the staff help in looking for the patients and assisting them so that the overall process is orderly.

“Remember that our mental health is as important as our physical health. DOST now gives priority to researches on mental health,” DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said when asked to comment on this program.

Meanwhile, Lozada said this project officially started last September and will end on August 31, 2022. Prior to the actual implementation, the SPMC had to develop the system, the equipment had to be brought to OWWA Kuwait, and their staff had to be trained.

The SPMC oversees this project.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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