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WHO Calling for Treatment of Mental Disorders in Developing World

Posted Oct 14 2008 5:51am

A representative for the World Health Organization has announced a new program to raise awareness of the critical need for treatment programming in developing countries for people suffering from psychiatric and neurological disorders. Although an estimated 300 million people in the world suffer from mental health problems, developing countries lack essential resources to address these issues. More than 75 per cent of all mentally ill individuals in less economically prosperous countries remain untreated.

Mh_mental_health_poster[1] The proposed WHO program, titled the mental health Gap Action program ( mhGAP ) is focusing on eight conditions including schizophrenia, substance abuse, psychiatric illnesses in children, dementia, epilepsy and suicide. The goal is to provide treatment by 2015 for 20 per of individuals needing help. The program is also focusing on the stigma that surrounds mental illness which prevents sufferers from seeking treatment and which also results in discrimination and neglect. The WHO is planning to train local health professionals to integrate mental health programs into primary health care.

Critical problem areas include the nine out of ten epilepsy sufferers in Africa who are currently not receiving proper medication to control seizures as well as the growing number of HIV dementia cases that are straining available resources.

As evidence of the feasibility of the new program, the WHO has cited several initiatives that have been extremely effective. Chile has successfully incorporated treatment for depression into primary health care providing treatment for thousands of Chileans with emotional difficulties. An epilepsy treatment in China has also been successful.

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