Monrovia – The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) along with the Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC), have ended a three-day theory change workshop to develop a stainable road map for integrating mental health into national emergency preparedness and response plans on the African continent.
The workshop is an important step towards making mental health a priority and the essential part of the emergency response. It also aims to strengthen the overall mental health system in Africa.
Speaking during the opening of the event at the Mamba Point Hotel, the Minister of Health Madam Dr. Wilhemina Jallah disclosed that conflicts and outbreaks such as Ebola, COVID-19 and other disasters have a huge impact on the mental health, something she says has negative effect on the national development of African countries.
Minister Jallah also praised all of the African heads of state who she said met and decided that all Africans CDC will be responsible for the health of African people.
According to the Minister of Health, mental health situations are increasingly rare in the region of West Africa.
She added: “We have seen the negative impact of war and other traumatic experiences on our people’s mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola epidemic and many other outbreaks, including fewer and diseases, mainly increase the mental health needs of the people in Liberia.”
Dr. Jallah also recognized the importance of mental health, she said the ministry of Health will work hard to enhance the access of mental health services.
The MOH boss recognized the need for capacity building for healthcare service providers to respond to the growing challenge of mental health.
She said: “The asset to funding will improve the services of mental health. The funding will provide mental health Workers with the needed skills,”
She said. Dr. Jallah added: “We are happy to collaborate with a coalition of mental health experts from the African Center for Disease Control and other health organizations.”
“This workshop is an important step toward making mental health the biology, the essential part of the emergency response, and the overall strengthening system,” she asserted.
Also speaking, a representative of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Julius Eaton who has been involved with the issue of mental health for more than a decade disclosed that in times of crisis people suffer mental health.
According to him, it is time that the African CDC finds the needed resources to solve some of the mental health issues in their respective countries.
“This will make things better for your family and your community,” he said.
“We as a mental health community need to deliver by helping our government to effectively respond whenever there is a crisis,” he said.
Dr. Florence Baingana praised Liberia for hosting the workshop. The initiative she says is going to take the CDC Africa a long way in strengthening the mental health capacity in member countries.
“Mental health is a global resolution,” Dr. Baingana said.
According to her, funding to member countries will provide support to strengthen the mental health program adding that the organization has planned to prepare courses for mental health practitioners in member countries.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mohammed Abdullah, Africa’s CDC Health of Division for Disease Control and Prevention stressed the need for sustainability of such educative international engagement to ensure an integrated mental health emergency preparedness response on the African Continent.
“What’s next for us? How do we link it to a sustainable system in order to ensure that we integrate it into an emergency preparedness response? What do we do to move this forward in our countries? The consortium is here to support, Africa CDC is here to support and this one area where Africa CDC does very well to integrate what you are doing into a sustainable system within the country,” Dr. Abdullah said.
Adding up, the Head of the Montserrado County Health Team Dr. Yatta Wapoe, organizers for selecting Liberia as host for the event.
“We are happy to have this opportunity to collaborate with a coalition of mental health experts from the African Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), the Eastern African Health Community and the UK Health Rapid Response,” Dr. Wapoe said.
She added: “We are also glad to be joined by representatives from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon as well as the very hardworking mental health and psychosocial health support representatives in Liberia and other countries.”