African-led mental health research programme meets in Ethiopia to develop mental health care plans
The PRogramme for Improving Mental health carE (PRIME), led from the University of Cape Town, conducted its Annual Meeting in Ethiopia from 15-20 April 2013, soon after Ethiopia launched its National Mental Health Strategy.
At the official opening, speakers representing the PRIME Ethiopian leadership (Department of Psychiatry, Addis Ababa University and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health), the African Union and Addis Ababa University College of Health Sciences were unanimous in their call to urgently integrate mental health care into primary health care in order to address the social, economic and health priorities of the African continent. Speakers identified a host of issues that could be linked to mental illness, including poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, conflict and crime.
Members of the consortium, including mental health experts and policymakers from the 5 PRIME countries (Ethiopia, India, Nepal, South Africa and Uganda), started the meeting by discussing and reporting back on the peer review of each country's Mental Health Care Plans. Other sessions of the meeting included a session on how to maximise the uptake of PRIME's research into policy and practice; gender mainstreaming and evaluation design.
The consortium also took the opportunity to conduct two capacity building workshops on 1) Gender Mainstreaming and 2) Academic Writing. The group visited the District of Sodo (approximately 350km south of Addis Ababa), where PRIME will pilot the integration of mental health into maternal and Primary Health Care in Ethiopia, before scaling up services. The consortium were also fortunate to have met with members of the established Community Advisory Board in Sodo, who perform an important community engagement role in the implementation of PRIME in Ethiopia.