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TAIPEI, Taiwan: – A fire at the Mental Health Centre in St. Vincent resulted in the relocation of 70 patients to a nearby educational institution on Tuesday, one day after a mentally-challenged woman was found dead in a burnt-out house.

The patients were moved to the Community College in Glen after a blaze Monday night caused “significant damage” to the institution, national emergency officials said.

According to the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater said that many of the patients would soon be relocated to the Mental Health Centre while others would be accommodated at health facilities across the

Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slate says alternative arrangements are being made for the patients. (File photo)


The Ministry of Education said that classes at the Community College, St. Vincent’s premier post-secondary education institution, would be cancelled on Tuesday.

NEMO did not indicate the cause of the fire. However, overcrowding has been a major problem at the Centre, which was built to house 156 patients.

“[B]ed stay surpass[es] that amount,” a health care practitioner told this writer in a recent interview for another media outlet.

An employee at the institution had said that while St. Vincent has limited financial and human resources “there comes a point where something becomes a national priority or needs to become a national priority”.

“The mental health of your citizens, mental and social services need to become priority,” the health care professional had said in the unpublished interview.

Ministry of Health statistics shows deaths as a result of mental and behavioural disorders in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been increasing.

In 2005, 2.2 percent of all deaths were attributed to mental and behavioural disorders, up from 0.7 percent in 2000.

The Ministry of Health in Kingstown had indicated that the improvements at the Mental Health Centre would have come soon, when the nation’s Mental Health Policy and the Mental Health Act are revised.

“The Mental Health Policy and the Mental Health Act must be reviewed for relevance and to take into account current international mental health practices,” a senior health official had said.

Meanwhile, police were on Monday investigating the deaths of physically challenged Zetilla Jacobs, 94, and her mentally-challenged daughter, Ivande Jacobs, 46, both of Lowman’s Hill, West Kingstown. (Read story)

Lawmen were on patrol in the area around 2 a.m. on Monday when they saw fire coming from a three-bedroom concrete house where the women lived. Fire-fighters discovered their bodies in the house after the blaze was extinguished.

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