The WHO Pacific Islands Mental Health Network (PIMHnet)
At the meeting of Ministers of Health for the Pacific Island Countries, in March 2005 in Apia, Samoa, the idea of a Pacific mental health network was discussed as a means of overcoming geographical and resource constraints in the field of mental health. With support from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization initiated process to establish a network aimed at improving mental health in the Region through the engagement and support of countries in various activities.
A framework for a mental health network was developed from a draft proposal circulated to 20 Pacific countries and areas. Eleven countries expressed an interest in being part of such a network. They provided further input in a series of telephone conferences and in a meeting in Tonga in August 2005. There was unanimous support among country representatives nominated by the governments for proceeding with the proposal to establish a Pacific Regional mental health network.
PIMHnet currently counts 18 member countries, each with an officially appointed focal point: American Samoa, Australia, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The WHO Pacific Islands Mental Health Network (PIMHnet), launched during the Pacific Island Meeting of Health Ministers in Vanuatu in 2007, has been established to overcome some of the challenges Pacific Island countries face in the area of mental health. Working together, network countries are able to draw on their collective experience, knowledge and resources in order to promote mental health and develop mental health systems that provide effective treatment and care.
PIMHnet has, in consultation with countries, identified a number of priority areas of work, including advocacy; human resources and training; mental health policy, planning, legislation and service development; and access to psychotropic drugs; and research and information. Network countries meet on an annual basis to develop workplans outlining major areas for action to address these priorities, to be officially endorsed by their ministers of health.
An important strategy of PIMHnet has been the forging of strategic partnerships with NGOs and other agencies working in the Pacific Region in order to reduce the existing fragmentation of mental health activities and to build a more coordinated and effective strategies to address the treatment gap, to improve mental health care and put an end to stigma, discrimination and human rights violations against people with mental disorders.
Dr Michelle Funk, WHO Coordinator
Mental Health Policy and Service Development
WHO HQ, Geneva
Tel: +41 22 7913855
Dr Wang Xiangdong
WHO Regional Adviser in Mental Health
WHO Regional office for the Western Pacific
Tel: +63 2 528 9858
Dr Frances Hughes
Wellington, New Zealand
Tel: +64 21 2764977
Tel: +64 21 2348689