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AHBN tasks African leaders on improved funding for mental health

by Haruna Gimba
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By Zayamu Hassan

The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) has advised African leaders to mobilise resources and improve domestic funding for mental health.

It has also called on them to work hard towards improving coverage for health insurance in their respective countries with the aim of reducing to the barest minimum the rate of out-of-pocket spending on hospital visits.

This was contained in a statement made available to Health Reporters by AHBN on Tuesday in Abuja.

The AHBN recalled that the recent report released by World Health Organisation (WHO) Mental Health Atlas 2020 showed a global worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic indicated the greater need for mental health support.

The statement noted that major highlights from the Atlas Report include: “Significant gaps globally between the existence of policies, plans and laws and the implementation and monitoring of these and the allocation of resources.

“Gap seen in the implementation of mental health services at the primary health care level. While guidelines for the integration of mental health into primary health care exist and have been adopted in most countries, with activities ongoing for training and supervision, the integration of interventions for service delivery, such as pharmacological and psychosocial interventions for mental health conditions, remains limited.

“80 per cent of responding countries reported that care and treatment of persons with severe mental health conditions are included in national health insurance or reimbursement schemes and in insurance coverage for inpatient/outpatient mental health services.

“Human and financial resources allocated for the implementation of policies/plans are limited.

“Levels of public expenditure on mental health are low particularly meagre in low and middle-income countries.”

In his reaction, the AHBN Coordinator Dr Aminu Magashi Garba, said: “With the clamour for well informed and prudent spending of the IMF earmarked US$33.7 billion Special Drawing Rights to the 55 African nations, commitment of its portion to mental health should be explored and prioritized.”

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