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International Symposium on strengthening mental health plans and services in the Americas




Toronto, Canada, March 21-22, 2011. The Office of International Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH – PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center) hosted a symposium entitled “Strengthening mental health plans and services in the Americas: Scaling up care for mental and substance use disorders,” which was co-organized by the Pan-American Health Organization. Policy experts, health practitioners, health ministries and academics from several countries in the Americas, as well as representatives from PAHO/WHO collaborating centers in Canada attended the Symposium.

Authorities from the CAHM, PAHO/WHO and Canada Ministry of Health chaired the event. It was coordinated and facilitated by Jorge Rodríguez, PAHO/WHO Principal Advisor on Mental Health; Maristela Monteiro, PAHO/WHO Regional Advisor on Alcohol and Substance Abuse; as well as Akwatu Khenti  and Jaime Sapag from the CAMH.

PAHO/WHO representatives described the general situation of mental health in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Canadian participants presented their country’s national mental health policy. In general, issues revolved mainly around mental health capacity building for primary care and mental health protection of indigenous populations and other vulnerable groups.

Best practices and innovative strategies to address mental health and substance abuse in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean were discussed during the event. It also sought to identify specific needs and opportunities for technical cooperation with the support of the Canadian collaborating centers. A special session was held to define follow up and next steps in this process.

This opens unique opportunities for cooperation between the Canadian institutions and PAHO/WHO, as well as for strengthening technical cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean.


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