GENEVA, Oct 9 (KUNA) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday
that worldwide, every 40 seconds, one person dies of suicide, and is one of
the leading causes of death among young adults.
However, WHO added that suicide is a condition that is preventable and that
more than 75% of people suffering from mental disorders in the developing
world receive no treatment or care.
A new WHO program launched today, on World Mental Health Day 2008
highlights the huge treatment gap for a number of mental, neurological and
substance use disorders. Across Africa for example, nine out of 10 people
suffering from epilepsy go untreated, unable to access simple and inexpensive
anticonvulsant drugs which cost less than USD 5 a year per person.
WHO is now calling on governments, donors and mental health stakeholders to
rapidly increase funding and basic mental health services to close this huge
The program, Mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP): Scaling up care
for mental, neurological and substance use disorders asserts that with proper
care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions could be
treated for diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy and begin
to lead healthy lives even where resources are scarce.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that governments across the world
need to see mental health as a vital component of primary health care. We need
to change policy and practice.
"Only then can we get the essential mental health services to the tens of
millions in need", she added.
The mhGAP focuses on the gap between what is needed to treat a range of
priority disorders and what is actually available worldwide.
In the majority of countries, less than 2% of health funds are spent on
In any one year, one-third of people living with schizophrenia, more than
half of those suffering from depression, and three-quarters of those with
alcohol use disorders are unable to access simple and affordable treatment or
care. It does not have to be this way.
In Chile, the national primary care programme now includes treatment of
depression for all who need it bringing much needed care to hundreds of
thousands of people.
An epilepsy project in China which integrated a model of epilepsy control
into local health systems achieved excellent results.
This confirmed that epilepsy could be treated with an inexpensive
anti-convulsant medicine by health professionals who had undergone basic
The project which started in six provinces has now been extended to 15
provinces and tens of thousands of sufferers have been treated.
The extra cost to scale up services for mental disorders is not too large.
A study conducted by WHO showed that in low-income countries, scaling up a
package of essential interventions for three mental disorders, schizophrenia,
bipolar disorder and deepression, and for one risk factor, hazardous alcohohol
use requires an additional investment as low as USDD 0.20 per person per
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