A two day mental health conference which is set among other things to deliberate and proffer solutions to the growing mental health burden in Africa, will be held in Botswana, Gaborone from 29 to 30 October, 2018.
By Michael Gwarisa
In an interview with HealthTimes, Botswana Network for Mental Health official, Charity Kiki Kennedy said the conference has registered tremendous response from potential participants and renowned speakers around the continent and called more partners and players to come board.
“The conference will be hosted in Botswana at Blue Tree in Gaborone Botswana, where African delegates will convene together with distinguished speakers and dialogue on Mental Health on its broadness.
“Our implementation strategy is also on facilitating the mainstreaming of mental health in day to life at a high stakeholder level. This will enable us monitor and evaluate efforts by member organization, capacitate them and as well as lobby for funding. We are faced with outdated mental health Acts across the African region which is a stumbling block towards improving mental health in Africa. Hence this conference is aimed to stir dialogues and share information regarding mental health in Africa and latter propose intervention and share our action plan,” said Kennedy.
The conference is attracting speakers from Zimbabwe, and other African countries.
The conference will be hosted In partnership of International Mental Health Resource Service – Eswatini under leadership of Dumsani Njobo (Mandela Washington Fellow 2017) , Botswana Network for Mental Health under the leadership of Charity Kiki Nkgare NEE Charity Kiki Kennedy ( YALI – RLCSA COHORT 4 YEAR 2016) & The African Umbrella for Mental Health Society under the leadership of Charity Kiki Kennedy.”
She added that the African Umbrella for Mental Health is a non-profit making organization aimed at promoting mental health activism by creating proper channel of monitoring, evaluating the progress done by the CSOs in this sector.
“There was a realization that there is lack of proper flow or link between civic society engaged on promoting mental health and other stakeholders. This lack of linkage has led to most CSOs shying away from advocating for mental health due to lack of funding. It was also discovered that WHO has a national framework, lot of online tools which are very helpful and may apply value to the work of CSOs but most CSOs are not aware of such tools which are the monitoring and evaluation policies and plan guide, mental health context Psychological First Aid, mental health gap action plan.”
The conference comprises of African Youth Leaders from across Africa that is, United East, North, Southern, Central and West Africa for Mental. This historic founding is much aligned with national frameworks like mental health action plan 2013 -2020, Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 3 which says ‘3.4 by 2030 reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
The Conference is scheduled for October 2018 and will also see the launch of the organization and its action plan, which is in turn launching mental health activism in Africa. The conference also seeks to bring all best technologies or innovation in mental health sector for better service delivery.
Mental health is a growing concern in Africa with many countries recording astronomical increases in cases. However, Kennedy bemoaned the lack of funding for mental health activities.
“There is nothing much being in done in the sector, our civic societies are donor driven they fear the sector because there is no specific funding relating to this cause hence clustering in one causes like cancer & HIV/AIDS where there is priority in funding.
“As an organization we are devoted, even though we have limited resources we are really doing our bit bringing the transformation in the way people perceive mental health. It is worth noting that some African states are still using Mental “Africa Speaks, its Mental Health” Health Act of 1950s ,which are outdated because they were never reviewed, this remains one of the issues that we are looking forward having dialogues with States to push the need for understanding and being up to date with Mental Health issues,” she said.