"Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders constitute a very high burden of disease globally, and depression is the leading cause of disability throughout the world," says lead author Prof. Abdallah Daar of the University of Toronto, lead author of the paper and a member of the UN Secretary-General's Scientific Advisory Board.
"A growing body of scientific evidence shows that much can be done for treatment, at moderate additional costs, and with significant economic benefits to countries, while at the same time reducing suffering and improving, and often saving, the lives of those who are affected."
At a global level, the paper notes, the 194 member states of the WHO (including those from Africa) have adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan (MHAP) with the objectives of advancing the mental health agenda in the world. This plan is supported by technical tools like the mhGAP Intervention Guide for non-specialist health settings, to assist in scaling up services. In Africa, these provide important opportunities for country-led intervention.
"We believe that action is urgently needed, not just by governments and other groups as set out below but also by international donors who contribute to health budgets and influence health policy, the mental health professional community, medical and public health schools, research institutions, and research funding bodies."
The group says an African National Mental Health Strategy and Plan (Roadmap) should, among other things, establish "parity in resources for mental and physical health alike"; integrate mental health care services into primary health care and provide resources for training, supervision and support for personnel dealing with the issue.
|Contact: Terry Collins|
University Health Network at the University of Toronto