WHO Mental Health Forum: Geneva, October 2019

Christopher Dowrick, chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health reports on the WHO Mental Health Forum: Geneva, 14-15 October 2019

I was delighted to participate once again in this annual event, together with WONCA colleagues Gabby Ivbijaro and Abdullah Al-Khatami. It was an excellent networking and information sharing event, highlighting important developments in global mental health.

Key issues of relevance to WONCA Working Party for Mental Health:

WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health (2019-2023), seeking to ensure universal health coverage including access to quality and affordable care for mental health conditions in 12 priority countries to 100 million more people.
o There were fascinating presentations on how this can work in practice, from Rabih el Chammay in Lebanon and Yuri Cutipe in Peru.
o We will soon know which 12 countries are selected.

Member states expressing commitment to expanding primary mental health care in their own countries included Bangladesh, Lebanon, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Peru.
o These present opportunities for our regional WWPMH leads to make important connections at policy level.

mhGAP Community Toolkit field test version is now available. It offers practical information and necessary tools for community providers to expand access to mental health services. You can access it here.

• Mental health interventions in humanitarian settings
: an inspiring set of case studies of what it is possible to achieve in challenging settings including Yemen, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine and Niger/north Nigeria. A key WHO resource is Building Back Better.

• Mental health interventions to adult populations: Abdullah’s 5 Steps Approach was well received; and there are promising task-sharing initiatives, using Problem management Plus, in Ethiopia, Syria and Honduras.

• Brain health including dementia, epilepsy, parkinsons, is converging with mental health at WHO level. This makes excellent sense for us as family doctors, since we are experts at integrated approaches to health care

ICD-11 for primary care is still on the WHO agenda, and WWPMH remains actively involved. First we will see updated proposals for diagnostic guidelines, followed separately by relevant training resources.