Puerto Princesa City lacks psychiatrists to help its growing number of patients with mental health problems.

Dr. Ric Panganiban, city health officer, said the city only has one visiting psychiatrist and two practicing professionals to take care of the needs for mental health of residents.

“Honestly, kulang, wala tayong sabi na psychiatrist. Pagkakaalam ko walang psychiatrist na dito lang talaga siya naka-base, meron tayong mga psychiatrist pero visiting lang. Kulang, honestly kulang,” Panganiban pointed out.

He said these mental health professionals are paid by the city government to prescribe medication to in need patients and even for counseling.

Panganiban said despite the problem, the city government still plans to put a center with a program that would cater to mental health patients.

“Siguro for this, sa ngayoon, doon na muna tayo pero time will come na maglalagay tayo for example parehas ng pag-address natin sa HIV, maglalagay tayo ng isang center lang. Program na ýon lang ang ibibigay na services pero sa ngayon hindi pa natin magawa. Hindi pa natin magawa kasi, although inaano natin… hopefully na madagdagan siguro,” he added.

Right now, the CHO refers patients to the Ospital ng Palawan, he added.

Meanwhile, the CHO has a social hygiene program in partnership with a non-government organization (NGO) to address the fight against the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and for the patients to know their status, have a test or for counselling.

“Meron tayong social hygiene, meron tayong mga partner na NGO. Yong program naman natin against sa pag-spread ng HIV, tuloy-tuloy yon. May program tayo dyan, may existing din tayong social hygiene ibig sabihin kung meron tayong mga client and patient na gusto malaman kung anong status niya o gusto magpa-test, o magpa-counsel, available ýan sa City Health Office,” he said.

Panganiban said CHO has sundown clinic that will open after office hours to give service to patients that could not visit the clinic due to work obligations. Due to the existing stigma to individuals going to social hygiene, CHO secured the confidentiality of the identities of patients together with their reason and purpose for going to clinic.

He stressed that they still closely monitor to the MSM or male having sex with male as this group dominates half of the population of reported cases.

“Meron tayong sundown clinic, after office hours kasi meron na di makapunta sa clinic kasi may trabaho kaya tinatag natin ang sundown clinic, after ng office hours, magbubukas ýon. Isa kasi na pinatitingnan natin na group ay itong mga MSM, male having sex with male, more than half ng population natin ay galing doon na isa sa tinututukan natin,” he said.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.