PRIME launches with local and international partners in Uganda

10 May 2012 - 12:00

10 May 2012, Kampala, Uganda - Local and international experts on mental health, WHO and Ministry of Health partners attend PRIME Uganda launch in Kampala.

To share their goal for developing evidence for integrating mental health care into the maternal and primary health care system, the PRIME Ugandan team led by Dr Fred Kigozi, Head of Butabika Hospital/Makerere University Department of Psychiatry, invited international and local stakeholders to its launch in the capital, Kampala.   

In Uganda, there is no clear data on the prevalence of mental health problems, however, it is estimated that about 4% of households have at least a person with mental disability (UBOS, 2006). In terms of service delivery, mental health is one of the components of the National Minimum Health Care Package, and an area emphasized by the Health Sector Strategic Plan of Ministry of Health. At the Ministry of Health, there is a mental health coordinating office which is responsible for overseeing the mental health activities in the country, which are decentralized. Uganda also has a national referral mental hospital with a 500 bed capacity and other 13 mental health units attached to the Regional Referral Hospitals; each with 35 beds.

The mental health policy stipulates that every district general hospital  should offer integrated mental health services throughout the primary health care setting. Each district expected to have a mental health coordinator at a level of a Psychiatric Clinical Officer and some psychiatric nurses. Despite the numerous challenges some of the districts have endeavored to implement the government policy of integrating mental health into PHC. However in Kamuli, the district where PRIME will be implemented, mental health services are not yet well organized and integrated into Primary Health Care.

As the launch in Uganda coincided with the international PRIME consortium’s 2nd Annual Meeting, it was attended by African (Ethiopia and South Africa) and Asian (India and Nepal) PRIME Partners, and international partners such including the Centre for Global Mental Health and the WHO. Preceding the launch, A/Prof Crick Lund (PRIME CEO and Director of the Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health), Dr Dan Chisolm (Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO) and Prof Graham Thornicroft (Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London) each gave a short public lecture on the PRIME project, investment in mental health systems and health systems research.

A broad range of local stakeholders attended from within Uganda, including the Ministry of Health partner represented by Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, health officials from the PRIME district site (Kamuli), WHO country representatives, institutional representatives from Psychology and Psychiatry at Makerere University and the School of Psychiatric Nursing, civil society representatives from Basic Needs Uganda and Mental Health Uganda.

The Ugandan team and their partners expressed their unwavering commitment to mental health, and its integration into maternal and primary health care in the country.