Experts revise mental health advances in the Americas Print E-mail

Experts from twenty-five countries of the Region of the Americas met in Panama, 16-18 October 2012, to analyze experiences, achievements and challenges in the implementation of the Regional Strategy on Mental Health and WHO mental health Gap Action Programme –mhGAP-.

"Knowing how the Regional Strategy for Mental Health and the  mhGAP are being implemented is imperative to be able to comply with scheduled tasks properly", said Dr. Serafín Sánchez, Panama´s Deputy Minister of Health, at the Regional Conference on Mental Health opening ceremony.

During the meeting, experts analyzed opportunities and barriers to overcome gaps in mental health, as well as experiences in the implementation of activities and programs to expand and improve care of mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders; they also discussed various strategies to increase coverage of key interventions in priority conditions at resource-limited settings, currently in practice.

The Conference also provided a venue for the Regional Consultation of WHO’s 2013-2020 Global Mental Health Action Plan. This Global Plan proposes measures to address the health, social and economic burden of mental disorders, through a comprehensive and multisectoral scheme that coordinates care services provided by the health and social sectors.

This approach also pays due attention to the principles of equity, to human rights, to evidence, and to the empowerment of users, defining clear roles for Member States, the WHO Secretariat and for partners at international, regional and national levels.

"This is a new opportunity and at the same time a challenge; in 2013 a Global Mental Health Action Plan will be submitted to the World Health Assembly to be approved by Member States. It is precisely at this meeting in Panama, when the regional consultation on the first draft Plan will be carried out. Our Region has an important flow of innovative experiences and lessons learned and can significantly contribute to the design of this Plan and its subsequent implementation," said Dr. Luis Augusto Galvão, Sustainable Development and Environmental Health Area Manager of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

"The consultation is intended to gain a strong commitment from policy and decision makers," said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2013-2020 Global Mental Health Action Plan envisions a world where mental health is valued and mental disorders are effectively prevented; and people affected by this disorder can get access to evidence based health and social care, and can exercise a wide range of rights to achieve the highest possible level of health and functioning without stigma or discrimination.

The WHO-AIMS Report on the mental health systems in Latin America and the Caribbean was presented during the Conference, which was attended by about eighty professionals and mental health experts, officials from the ministries of health and other public institutions, PAHO collaborating centers, academic institutions, representatives of NGOs and human rights advocacy organizations, as well as family members from twenty-five countries.