No mental hospital without licence

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Desk Report:

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft of National Mental Health bill, 2017 keeping provisions of rigorous punishment for setting up and running mental hospitals without licences and provoking any mental patient to commit crime.

The approval was given at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the Prime Minister’s Office here with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said the draft law having 28 sections is better updated and modified to replace the 105-year-old one, ‘The Lunacy Act 1912’, which is now dealing with those who are mentally disordered.

According to section 24 of the draft law, Shafiul Alam said, “Any individual or company running mental hospital without having licence will have to face a Tk five lakh as fine or a three-year term imprisonment or both. And in case of repetition of the same offence, the punishment will be maximum Tk 20 lakh or a five-year imprisonment or both.”

Anybody provoking a mental patient to commit any offence will have to face a Tk five lakh fine or two years’ jail or both, he said.

Besides, there will be a Tk five lakh fine or a three-year jail or both punishments for showing any negligence on preparation of list of the mental patients or disobey any court order in this regard, he added.

The Cabinet Secretary said the proposed law defined mental patient as anyone who is mentally disabled, or not able to understand one’s own potentiality, or a drug addicted person who is not able to run or earn his or her normal livelihood.

As per the draft law, a directorate will be set up with a government officer holding the status of Director for conducting, expanding, development, controlling and coordination of the mental health-related activities in the country.

Besides, a three-member mental health review and monitoring committee will be formed in every district with the Deputy Commissioner concerned as its head and civil surgeon and Deputy Director of Social Services of the district as its members.

Any aggrieved guardian or relative of the mental health patient can lodge complaint with the Committee over any mental health service. And the committee will have to dispose of the complaint within 30 days, said Shafiul Alam.

There are also provisions in the proposed law to set up and run mental health hospitals and institutes under any private sector initiative and provide quality services from there after having licence from the authorities concerned, he added.

Besides, the cabinet meeting approved the draft of an Agreement on Trade, Promotion and Economic Cooperation to be signed between Bangladesh and the Czech Republic apart from approving with retrospective effect a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of tourism signed between Bangladesh and Cambodia.

At the meeting, a certificate given by a UK based International Rating Organisation on Sea Ports that ranked Chittagong Sea Port as the 71st among 100 Sea Ports of the world was handed over to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Chittagong port was in 98th position in 2009.

In the beginning of the meeting, the Cabinet adopted three separate condolence motions over the death of Fisheries and Livestock Minister Muhammed Sayedul Hoque, former Chittagong City Corporation Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury and Awami League MP elected from Gaibandha-1 (Sundarganj) Golam Mostafa Ahmed.

Minister Sayedul Haque died on December 16 last, while ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury on December 15 and MP Golam Mostafa Ahmed on December 19.unb

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