The countries of the Region are making serious efforts to shift the focus of attention, from services provided in traditional institutions to a community-based model, offering comprehensive and continuous care for people with mental disorders, epilepsy and disability. The process of integrating mental health into primary care has been strengthened in recent years by training primary health care personnel in the use of the WHO mhGAP instrument, consisting of interventions for the prevention and management of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders at the non-specialized level of health care.
While there is significant progress in implementing most of the strategic areas of the three action plans under review, there are still challenges that require a more active role for government authorities. PAHO continues to guide its advocacy and technical cooperation efforts to promote and facilitate the participation and empowerment of the authorities in these issues. This was stated in the mid-term reviews of the plans of action on mental health, epilepsy and disability presented to the 160th Session of the Executive Committee.
In order to achieve the goals proposed and reviewed at this executive committee, the reports included among others the following recommendations as actions needed to improve the situation:
- Support the joint work of PAHO and Member States in the development of health systems, human resources and services needed to reduce treatment gaps and improve quality of care.
- Expand decentralized habilitation and rehabilitation services to ensure territorial coverage linked to the health services network, especially its coordination with primary health care.
- Strengthen information and surveillance systems, improve epidemiological information and increase survey coverage for marginalized populations and other vulnerable groups.
- Promote the allocation of resources according to identified needs and established goals.
Member States welcomed the three mid-term reports, expressed their appreciation of the progress described and the continued efforts of PAHO and renewed their commitment to the implementation of the plans and their objectives. They also supported the suggested adjustments and agreed with the recommendations of the reports.
Some countries made some interesting suggestions for the remaining period of implementation of the plans and their respective final reports, such as the inclusion of elements of action in national investment to hire, retain and train health professionals and other health care professionals to provide services for people with mental disorders, epilepsy and disability.
They also emphasized the need to continue efforts by the government, private and social sectors to implement, disseminate and evaluate effective prevention and treatment programs in health settings, communities and households to reduce the burden of disease represented by mental, neurological and substance use disorders.
Finally, Dr. Etienne, Director of PAHO, emphasized the need to integrate mental health, epilepsy and disability into primary care.
The documents of the reports are available for consultation on the website of the 160th Session of the Executive Committee of PAHO.