More than 75% of people suffering from mental disorders in the developing world receive no treatment or care. A new WHO programme 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 ten people suffering from epilepsy go untreated, unable to access simple and inexpensive anticonvulsant drugs which cost less than US$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 treatment gap. The programme, 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.
“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”, said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organ.
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