African Press International (API)

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WHO urges African countries to step up support for mental health patients

Posted by African Press International on September 4, 2007

Dakar (Senegal) The World Health Organisation (WHO) Monday urged African countries to boost their support to mental health services by increasing investments and developing competent services, reliable sources told APA.

The call is part of a “series of six presentations” on global mental health published by the medical journal, The Lancet.

“The WHO has closely worked with The Lancet at making things happen fast, and calling for action,” said a release copied to APA.

According to the WHO, mental illness si common but globally, people suffering grave ailments and the great majority of those with benign to moderate disorders lack treatment.

“When they do access treatment, this is delivered in institutions that are involved in stigma and human rights violations in many countries,” the UN body says.

“The reasons for this saddening situation are clear: mental health services lack the needed financial and human resources,” the WHO lamented.

It says “the WHO mental health atlas database shows that the majority of African and South-east Asian countries devote less than 1 percent of their health budgets to mental health”.

“Low revenue countries have an average of 0.05 mental doctors and 0.16 mental nurses for every 100,000 people (or about 200 times less than high income countries). Due to these extremely low rates, it is impossible to extend satisfactory services in these countries,” the statement added.

According to WHO estimates, low revenue countries need 2 US dollars per person to deliver basic mental health care, while middle-income nations need between 3 and 4 dollars.

This care package, which is based on the treatment of mental derangements and community clinics, is expected to increase the coverage of severe mental disorder by 80 percent and less grave illnesses by 25-33 percent, the WHO argued.

The call comes in support of the WHO global action programme to help low and middle-income countries in delivering mental healthcare, the statement recalled.

Published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel+4793299739 or+4763002525 source.apa

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