New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: World Vision

Introduction

Ministry of Health (MoH) with partners is in the process of scaling up mental health care through integration of health services for the Mental, Neurological and Substance use (MNS) illnesses at all levels of health care.

The Situation of MNS illnesses in Uganda is such that the mental health problems are on the increase with depression being the commonest.

About 15-35% of the people suffer from depression at any one time. In addition to many people suffering from depression, most people suffering from severe and chronic mental illness such as schizophrenia remain untreated.

Many more people suffer from less severe forms of mental problems such as Anxiety Disorders and other Stress related Disorders.

Alcohol use related health and social problems are a silent public health problem; alcohol use has been linked to extreme levels of poverty and poor livelihoods across the country. Over 40% of rural men use alcohol in harmful patterns and they fail to attain their productive potential at family, community and national level.

Drug abuse is also on the increase and youth particularly loss their most productive period of lives to complications of drug abuse. Among the neurological problems, Epilepsy is very common with almost every extended family having a member with epilepsy

Epilepsy affects mostly children and its complications, including stigma and exclusion from normal participation in social activities, impairs the child's development and social integration.

MhGAP Project in Uganda

In order to reduce the burden of MNS Disorders in developing countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designed a simple program referred to as Mental health Gap Action Program (MhGAP) which includes; training of primary health workers to manage MNS Disorders at all levels of health care and increasing the participation of service users in advocacy and delivery of MNS services.

We are glad to inform all people in Uganda that the Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO Geneva, WHO Country Office, World Vision Uganda and World Vision Australia will conduct mental health training using the WHO MhGAP training guide in the districts of Kamuli, Jinja and Kitgum with support of the funding from World Vision Australia.

The training project targets all the health workers in the three Districts. The project will be launched today by the Permanent Secretary MoH in Kampala.

The Project Goal and Outcomes

The project goal is to improve the wellbeing of girls, boys, women and men affected by MNS disorders in the districts of Kamuli, Jinja and Kitgum.

The project consists of three outcomes; improved environment for the delivery of quality MNS services at all levels of Primary Health Care (PHC), improved capacity of human resources to provide MNS services within PHC and improved access to and utilization of services for people with MNS disorders within PHC.

This is a three year project and the project activities will start in year one for the district of Kamuli and in the second year for the districts of Jinja and Kitgum.

Beneficiaries

Although the project will serve the whole community, specific vulnerable groups will be beneficiaries; women who tend to suffer more depression and anxiety, persons living with disabilities as certain MNS Disorders are categorized as disabilities and children who are affected by epilepsy and all other forms of MNS Disorders in their parents and Guardians.

The people suffering from MNS disorders are at increased risk of violence such as Gender Based Violence. By raising community awareness and by anti-stigma messaging, the discrimination and neglect that many people with MNS disorders experience will be reduced.

Much conflict and family violence which exists in targeted areas can be connected to alcohol and substance abuse.

This project will improve the capacity of PHC workers to identify, treat and support those suffering from alcohol and substance abuse disorders which should have a positive flow on effect to the community. Many MNS concerns in Kitgum districts can be connected to people's experience of war and conflict.

By improving the access and quality of MNS services to these people, it is hoped this will contribute towards a more cohesive and peaceful community.

This project will ensure equal opportunity and participation to all beneficiaries regardless of spiritual or religious affiliation.

Spiritual leaders will be engaged in this project to ensure that those service users who could benefit from spiritual support and guidance in addition to the MNS services they are using are informed and aware of the realities of MNS disorders and do not perpetuate stigma, discrimination and exclusion.

MhGAP project design team at Entebbe Uganda, Jan 2012.

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