In collaboration with Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the Research center (DOST) is offering free telepsychiatry services to OFWs in Kuwait.

Telepsychiatry’s acceptability by OFWs is the goal of the initiative. Project manager Lemuel Lozada told that a poll would be done among participants to find out how satisfied they are with the programme and how they can enhance it.

It is estimated that the PCHRD, an affiliate of DOST, will invest PHP5.2 million in this initiative during the course of the first year.

“Telepsychiatry services are available to any OFW who has not previously seen a psychiatrist or who is interested in doing so. Depending on the psychiatrist’s suggestion, they might have many consultations “It was his opinion.

There is no guarantee that everyone will be able to use the programme, according to Lozada. Since the services began during Ramadan this year, an average of five to ten OFWs have been consulting.

“The initiative is still in its infancy, thus the number of overseas workers taking advantage of the facilities is minimal. With the help of our project members and the OWWA, we expect the number to grow “he commented.

The DOST is currently only undertaking this in Kuwait, based on the amount of OFWs in the country and the OWWA Kuwait’s history on mental health.

His response was to make it clear that the initiative is employing a specialised technology, not simply any internet platform or telephone.

“While utilising telepsychiatry, we are utilising a system that combines individual information and medical records. In addition to the survey and video consultation, this platform must be safe “he emphasised.

According to Lozada, the SPMC, the company that developed the technology, will have a telepsychiatry project with a Cagayan de Oro hospital in 2020, with funding provided by the PCHRD.

According to the SPMC, the initiative got a positive response from patients, and they’ve made a request to expand it to other countries in order to better serve overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Psychiatrists working on this initiative come from the Health Department and the SPMC , which also distributes drugs based on the psychiatrists’ recommendations.

As for OWWA Kuwait, the system is in place and the employees aid in finding and helping patients so that the total procedure is efficient.

“It’s crucial to remember that mental health is just as important as physical one. In recent years, the DOST has prioritised mental health research”, said its Secretary de la Pena. 

In addition, Lozada stated that the project formally began in September of last year and would finish on 31st August, 2022. The SPMC had to create the system, transport the equipment to OWWA Kuwait, after which it had to educate their employees before it could be implemented.

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