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A WHO-WPA Policy Roundtable during The World Psychiatric Association Regional Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, 22-24 October, 2009

Abuja RoundtableAn important event organized to run in parallel with the WPA Regional Meeting was a policy roundtable. The roundtable built on an earlier one that was organized during the WPA Regional Meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007. The Abuja exercise, co-sponsored by the WPA and WHO, brought together nine countries on the continent for the purpose of developing roadmaps for scaling up of their mental health services. The nine countries are those indentified in the WHO mhGAP document for intensified support to scale up mental health service: Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, and Nigeria.

The roundtable was attended by very senior policy makers and professional leaders from these countries with the exceptions of Malawi and DRC which were unable to send delegates. Kenya was represented by a delegation led by its Minister of Health. Observers included senior officials from Niger and Sierra Leone as well as several members of the executive of the WPA as well as of AAPAP.Left to right: Dr. Alimata Diara-Nama, Dr. Peter Eriki, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kenyan Minister for Health Service), Prof. Oye Gureje, Dr. O. Udofia, Prof. Roger C. Joseph Delafosse, Prof. Drissa Krone and Dr. Anna Puklo-Dzadey  

After a review of the current situations in the countries and a discussion of the strategies described in the mhGAP document, commitments were made for the improvement of mental health service by participating countries. These commitments were specific and contextualized to the needs of the particular countries.

The roundtable was planned to be a vehicle to mobilise political will for action in the selected countries but to also serve as a template for such initiatives in the future. Its success will be determined by the extent to which commitments made by participants are followed through in their respective countries. A general agreement was made about how to follow up on these commitments and to arrange for a forum at which progress made will be reviewed, possibly during the next meeting of the AAPAP in Sudan in December 2010.

Abuja Roundtable

Left to right: Dr. Peter Eriki, Dr. Mike Anibueze (representing the Nigerian Minister of Health), Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kenyan Minister for Health Service), Prof. Mario Maj and Prof. Oye Gureje

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