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First mhGAP commission in Burundi appointed

The Burundian Ministry of Health has been mobilised to appoint 12 mhGAP Commissioners who will be responsible for the adaptation of the WHO mhGAP guide in their country. The aim is to integrate mental health into primary care.  However, this involves several steps. First, to have a sound system in primary care, there must be community interventions and specialist care available both for supervision and for hospitalization at the general hospital levels.  Second, there are six pillars to strengthening a health system for any health issue: 1) Leadership and Governance, 2) Service Delivery Integration, 3) Workforce Development, 4) Medications, Vaccines and Technology, 5) Financing, 6) Health Management Information Systems.  We have developed the strategy of mental health care based on local needs, international guidelines and best practices keeping in mind these six pillars.

The mhGAP Commission of Burundi convened for four days in January 2012 to discuss in detail mental health priorities for the Burundi context, available resources, cultural adaptations of the WHO’s mhGAP intervention and facilitator guides, and in general how to integrate mental health into the overall health system in a society that has been exposed to civil war, violence and conflict.

The Commissioners have been instrumental in developing a pilot project in mental health. The plan is to implement a fully structured pilot project, monitor and evaluate the project, present the evidence to the Ministry of Health, and lobby to scale up for the entire population of Burundi.  Best practice standards have been utilized to build capacity and structure a training programme for primary care providers in mental health, alongside training of community health workers and hospital-based providers.

The pilot programme will focus on five priority conditions at the inception of the programme: Depression, Psychosis, Epilepsy, Substance Abuse (drugs and alcohol) and Developmental Disorders. Additional priority conditions will be added at a later stage.  The plan will be to monitor and evaluate the project in order to provide evidence to the MoH and for ultimate scaling up for the population of Burundi.

Please see the link for more information on the mhGAP:




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