ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that it is a matter of serious concern that 24 percent of the Country’s population is suffering from mental health related issues whereas only 500-600 mental health professionals are available in the Country to cater to the needs of this population.
While chairing a meeting on mental health through the video link, the president called for joint efforts by all stakeholders including the federal and provincial governments, community and health professionals to work for the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders.
The president emphasized the need for increasing the number of mental health professionals, besides strengthening the capacity of general health professionals by training them to address the challenge of rising mental health disorders.
صدر مملکت ڈاکٹر عارف علوی کی زیرِ صدارت نفسیاتی صحت کے حوالے سے اجلاس
اجلاس میں پاکستانی امریکن سائیکائٹرک ایسوسی ایشن کے صدر، قومی کمیشن برائے انسانی حقوق، عالمی ادارہ صحت کے نمائندوں کی شرکت pic.twitter.com/yxnoMFLNQh
— The President of Pakistan (@PresOfPakistan) February 28, 2023
The meeting was attended by President of Pakistani American Psychiatric Association of North America (PAPANA) Dr. Muhammad Zeeshan, representatives of the National Commission of Human Rights, World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan Psychological Association, Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Taskeen Health Initiative, and Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College Professor Dr. M Waqar Azeem, Professor of Psychiatry and Program Director at the University of Nevada Dr. Mujeeb Shahd, Executive Vice Chair and Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Professor Dr. Asim Shah, Director Muslim Mental Health Consortium Professor Dr. Farah Abbasi, Child Fellowship Director at the Harvard Medical School Dr. Zheala Qayyum, and Program Director Residency and Addiction Fellowship at the University of Missouri School of Medicine Dr. Nauman Ashraf attended the meeting virtually.
The participants gave various suggestions to cope with the challenge of mental issues.
The meeting emphasized the need for raising awareness about the diseases, educating people about mental health, eliminating the stigma attached to it, and providing quality counselling and treatment to mental health patients.
The participants also called for the capacity building and training of health professionals in Pakistan, adding that a central coordinating mechanism among various stakeholders is also essential to avoid duplication of efforts.
The meeting also underscored the need for developing a national autism plan.
Professor Dr. Rizwan Taj from PIMS informed the meeting that the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has established an autism Center at PIMS, adding that it would be a role model for provinces and other hospitals to follow.
President Arif Alvi appreciated the role of Overseas Pakistani medical professionals, especially PAPANA, for supporting the initiative on mental health.