Transcript of WHO podcast - 23 October 2008
WHO launches a new programme to help millions with mental disorders in the developing world. We look at the aim of this programme and how it will be implemented.
Ravini Thenabadu: You’re listening to the WHO podcast. My name is Ravini Thenabadu and this is episode 51.
In this episode, WHO launches a new programme to help millions with mental disorders in the developing world. We look at the aim of this programme and how it will be implemented.
Millions of people with mental disorders in the developing world are deprived of treatment and care. Across Africa, for example, nine out of ten people suffering from epilepsy go untreated, with no access to simple anticonvulsant drugs which cost less than 5 US$ a year per person.
On World Mental Health Day, WHO launched a new programme called the Mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) to fill this gap in treatment. With proper care, tens of millions could be treated for diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy and lead healthy lives.
Dr Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General of the WHO Department of Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health gives an overview of the current global situation of mental health.
Dr Ala Alwan: Mental disorders are more common than we like to believe; one out of four persons will experience a mental disorder some time in his or her life. They affect people of all ages and in all regions of the world, rich as well as the poor. Mental and neurological disorders are also often chronic and disabling; they are responsible for about one-third of disability due to health conditions. Depression itself is the second largest cause of disability.
Despite the already huge burden, it is important to mention that many of the serious and disabling disorders are rapidly increasing in magnitude. For example, the number of people with dementia is expected to double in the next 20 years.
Ravini Thenabadu: Dr Saraceno, Director of the WHO Department on Mental Health and Substance Abuse says the burden of mental disorders goes beyond individual suffering.
Dr Benedetto Saraceno: The economic impact of mental illness includes its effects on personal income, the ability of persons with mental disorders or their caregivers to make productive contributions to their communities, and on the other hand, extreme poverty, insecurity, low educational levels, inadequate housing, have been recognized as contributing to mental disorders. Those suffering from mental illnesses are victims of stigma, discrimination and human rights violations.
Ravini Thenabadu: The mhGAP programme sets out a number of cost-effective strategies to fill the treatment gap for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General explains how this would be implemented.
Dr Margaret Chan: The way forward is clearly illuminated and well-paved. It is illuminated by a plan of action that is rational, realistic, and workable. It is paved with evidence, can-do experience, and solid technical and practical advice from countries.
Efforts to implement the action plan have abundant technical support. Together with our partners, WHO has issued an assessment instrument for gathering essential information about mental health services, a guidance package for service reform, and a collection of resources for the design of relevant legislation.
Ravini Thenabadu: For more information about the Mental health Gap Action Programme visit www.who.int/mental_health
That's all for this episode of the WHO podcast. Thanks for listening. If you have any comments on our podcast or have any suggestions for future health topics drop us a line. Our email address is Podcast@who.int.
For the World Health Organization, this is Ravini Thenabadu in Geneva.