Alexandra Hospital in Western Cape, South Africa, has opened its renovated outpatient department building.

The R4.6m ($561,687) project created additional space for physical examinations and dental treatment, in addition to space for meetings with family groups, and/or multidisciplinary team meetings.

Alexandra Hospital’s new outpatient department will offer improved patient care and a better working environment for staff.

The hospital will also provide more efficient service delivery thanks to an increase in ambulatory mental healthcare services.

"Mental health is now eventually receiving its rightful place in health service planning and enjoys the support from role players across the globe."

Western Cape Health Minister Theuns Botha said intellectual disability/psychiatry and psychiatric hospitals have long been shrouded in a cloud of prejudice, stigma and mystery.

"Many believed that these services have been treated as the stepchild of general medicine for a long time – partly because psychiatry and intellectual disability were seen as less glamorous and perhaps less scientific than heart surgery, dialysis, etc," Botha added.

"Fortunately this perception has changed, partly because of the tremendous and giant contributions of many highly qualified and very able health professionals as well as national and international organisations.

"Mental health is now eventually receiving its rightful place in health service planning and enjoys the support from role players across the globe."

Construction work on the hospital’s outpatient department building began in March 2011 and was completed in August 2011.

Alexandra Hospital treats people with varying degrees of intellectual disability, with and without co-morbid psychiatric illnesses, and serves around 400 patients per month.