Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) will not be used on mental patients without their consent, or that of their relatives or guardians.

Such treatment will only be administered if it helps the patient recover quickly, according to amendments to the 2013 Psychiatric (Mental) Health Law approved by MPs during Parliament’s weekly session yesterday.

ECT is a treatment that involves sending an electric current through the brain, causing a brief surge of electrical activity in the brain, aimed at relieving the symptoms of some mental health problems.

MPs claimed that the method was primitive and should be stopped.

However, Health Ministry representative Dr Eman Haji said Bahrain followed certain specific protocols when necessary.

“The therapy is done using sophisticated equipment and strict protocols are followed when administering the procedure through consent.”

MP Dr Masooma Abdulrahim, a former psychiatrist, said the therapy was only used in cases when a patient refused oral medication.

Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Waleed Al Manea said general psychiatric treatment needs consent or permission from the patient, relatives, or the Public Prosecution.

MPs are set to continue debating on further amendments next month.

Speaker Fouzia Zainal wanted to postpone the entire debate after services committee chairman Ahmed Al Ansari requested to be excused on medical grounds, and vice-chairman Ammar Al Mukhtar tested positive for Covid-19.

However, other committee members said they could give the necessary feedback.

Meanwhile, MPs approved all amendments to the 2013 Civil Aviation Law regulating the use of drones and the 2019 Environment Law with tougher punishments for offenders and referred it to His Majesty King Hamad for ratification.

MPs also rejected amendments to the 2002 National Audit Office (NAO) Set-up Law.

The issue was debated in 2020 but a stalemate forced a vote until the final term of the four-year parliamentary period.

The NAO told MPs that having labour federations come under its scrutiny was not preferable as they didn’t receive any funds from state coffers.

Bahrain’s two labour federations have also opposed the move, saying it contradicts their financial and administrative independence.

Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain, who is politically responsible for the Civil Service Commission, told MPs, in writing, that 7,356 expats were employed on temporary contracts in the public sector.

They were given jobs in health, education and higher education sectors following requests by the concerned ministries and government bodies.

Youth and Sports Minister Aymen Almoayed responded to two questions, on building a sports pitch in the Capital Governorate constituency eight (Nabih Saleh and northern part of Sitra); and on projects in the Muharraq Governorate constituency eight (Hidd).

lParliament session ended early yesterday as not enough MPs showed up after a 30-minute break allowed by Ms Zainal.

Only 20 members showed up after the break, with the required quorum being 21 out of 40 MPs.

More than 20 sessions have ended prematurely since December 2018.

A memorandum issued by Parliament secretary-general Rashid Bunamja on Monday said that MPs have to submit written requests to leave the session, and give reasons.

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