Ethiopian Ministry of Health launches National Mental Health Strategy (2012-2016)

12 Jul 2012 - 12:00

Please join with us all in celebrating the launch of the Federal Ministry of Health’s (FMOH) National Mental Health Strategy (2012/13 – 2015/16). This is a critical milestone in our journey towards the development of accessible, affordable and acceptable mental health care for all Ethiopians. The Strategy was developed with extensive input from a wide range of stakeholders. As a result, this is a Strategy for action which is workable in our setting and has the support of those who will play a critical part in its implementation. Therefore, a heart-felt appreciation is in order to all who graciously gave their time and input to the development of the Strategy.

The Strategy builds on the existing momentum for improving mental health care which is already evident in Ethiopia. For example, FMOH is currently completing the construction of a state-of-the-art hospital specializing in mental health care and will be establishing a National Institute of Mental Health to oversee the co-ordination of mental health activities across the country. A number of higher learning institutions have established academic graduate degree programs to develop mental health professionals. FMOH is also collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the six pilot sites for the implementation of mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) focused on scaling up of mental health services. Other important Ethiopia-based initiatives include the UKAID-funded Programme for Improving Mental Health carE (PRIME) and EC-funded EMERALD projects which are providing valuable information on the ‘how to’ to scale up and deliver effective mental health care in primary health care settings.

Successful realization of the Strategy will need to harness the efforts of many different institutions, agencies and individuals. Each has an important part to play.

For example:

• Resource mobilization: Comparatively, in light of the substantial burden of mental illness as a disease in the world (13%) in general and Ethiopia in particular, this Strategy provides WHO costing estimates for scale-up of mental health care and a range of ways that various funders can contribute.

• Non-governmental organizations: Need to be fully engaged in the development of activities and have much to offer by supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of persons with mental disorders in the community and least restrictive settings.

• Academic institutions: Can provide vital support in the training of mental health professionals and provide evidenced based information about the most clinically and cost effective ways of delivering care that is culturally competent.

This strategy sets out a clear and evidence-based plan for scaling up mental health care in Ethiopia. We hope that you will join us in working to make this Strategy a reality and improving the lives of many afflicted by mental illness in Ethiopia.