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February 2010
AFPA Awards for Excellence in Psychiatric Development Presented on the Occasion of The 2nd World Congress of Asian Psychiatry, Taipei, Taiwan, November 7, 2009

The Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations was founded on September 11, 2005 and launched in 2007 in Lahore, Pakistan with the aim of improving psychiatry in Asia. Many of the lower income countries of Asia are still suffering from neglect of mental health teaching, practical training, services and lack of research. There are problems of resources in trying to change archaic practices and instill the seeds of a humane approach to care for the mentally ill both in health care services and in communities in Asia.

Asia is by far the largest continent on earth with a population of well over three billion or 60 per cent of the total population of the world. It has 4 of the 6 World Health Organization regional offices of the world that cover its health and mental health needs. Despite these psychiatry and mental health remains a much maligned and neglected. In spite of these challenges there have been organizations and individuals in many parts of Asia who have against all odds gone above and beyond the call of duty to try and change psychiatry, its teaching, its services and its professional standing in their countries.

Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations is honored to recognize these selfless pioneers and organizations in the battle against the stagnation and decline in the mental health services of Asians and Pacific Islanders, by four awards on November 7, 2009 on the occasion of the Second World Congress of Asian Psychiatry in Taipei, Taiwan.

Awards for Excellence in Psychiatric Development

- Cambodia

The Mental Health Association of Cambodia (MHAC) was formed after more than a decade of efforts to unite the new psychiatrists who completed their training in 1998 under the IOM managed and NORAD funded University of Oslo Mental Health  Training Program. Cambodia has had a recent past that challenges even the most dedicated in mental health and had to recreate a system of mental health care from the ruins of civil strife and war that engulfed the country for decades.

Although the country now has just over 30 psychiatrists most of whom are in Phnom Penh and 40 psychiatric trained nurses their professional development and unity in addressing the many challenges in the profession needs urgent attention. To this end, AFPA has been assisting colleagues in Cambodia to form a professional association to address standard, ethics and develop links with psychiatric bodies in Asia and the world. The process has taken over an arduous decade and AFPA recognizes the success of the psychiatrists of Cambodia and their nursing colleagues in forming MHAC in May 2009 to develop, improve and maintain professional activities and standards in the community of mental health professionals in Asia .

In recognition of these valiant efforts of the psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses of Cambodia, the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations awards the MHAC with the AFPA Award for Excellence in Professional Development.

- Cook Islands

The Cook Islands (population: 15,000) have 15 inhabited islands with about 250 km2 of land in over 2 million km2 of the Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line. The country is struggling to provide good mental health care for its people in widely separated islands. In the field of mental health, the country has had limited progress with no psychiatrist, and only one retired psychiatric nurse and a medical officer with a few months psychiatric training. There was a small three-cell building built for housing mentally ill in the grounds of the Rarotonga General Hospital in the capital city but lately this has unfortunately for psychiatry been turned into a crèche for babies of the staff.

Under these trying circumstances, Te Kainga O Pa Taungaa family services and Mental Health NGO was set up in 2003 by the only psychiatric nurse. In these past six years Te Kainga has raised funds, spread knowledge and skills about mental health and conducted over 20 training courses on basic mental health, basic counseling and alcoholism treatments and set up two AA groups with its limited resources. In 2009, it set up the first Stress Management Centre there to cater for 15-20 clients a week.

In recognition of these valiant efforts of Te Kainga O Pa Taunga, the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations awards Te Kainga with the AFPA Award for Excellence in Developing Community Mental Health services in Cook Islands.

- Fiji

Fiji is an island nation of 800,000 people in the Western Pacific. It has a long colonial history that built the only large mental hospital among the developing countries of the region. The St. Giles Mental Hospital in Suva the capital houses today about 200 mentally ill and has four psychiatrists. However over the last decade, the few psychiatrists of Fiji have embarked on a steady but purposeful program of extending basic mental health services in the larger Island of Viti Levu where there are many rural clinics and hospitals with no mental health services. Over the past five years, the services have extended to most populated areas in Viti Levu and a clinic has been set upon the smaller Island of Venua Levu. These have been achieved despite several staff leaving Fiji and numerous difficulties and obstacles.

In a country that had for too long depended on an institutional model of mental health care that proved difficult to change the brave  efforts of the psychiatric staff in bringing about a shift in the paradigm has opened the door to de-stigmatization and demystifying of mental health among the medical staff and the people of Fiji.

In recognition of these valiant efforts of the psychiatrists Fiji, the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations awards the psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses of Fiji with the AFPA Award for Excellence in development of Primary Care Mental health Services through basic training  in Fiji.

- Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan College of Psychiatrists (SLCP) was formed less than a decade ago to unite the 35 or so psychiatrists who cared for the over 19 million people of Sri Lanka. Economic and civilian strife had combined to reduce the numbers of psychiatrists and the SLCP aimed to improve the quality of training of new psychiatrists and maintaining as well as improving services in all parts of the island nation.

It has been very challenging for the remaining psychiatrists to develop quality mental health services while they faced increasing problems with resources and continuing tendency towards emigration by the best of the psychiatric profession. Added to this was the escalation of civil strife caused by internal problems and mounting numbers of internally displaced persons in need of mental health services. This humanitarian crisis compounded by security problems had led to the SLCP using its every effort among its small and overworked members to go beyond the call of duty to organize and provide emergency humanitarian psychiatric services to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.

In recognition of these valiant efforts of the SLCP psychiatrists, the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations awards the SLCP with the AFPA Award for Excellence in Humanitarian Psychiatric Assistance in Sri Lanka.

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