Zambia underwent health reforms in 1991 but mental health is still a low priority in the healthcare system, according to a study in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems. Mental health services are fragmented and the budget allocated to mental health services is small (0.4 percent of the total health budget). The study explored health providers’ views about mental health integration into primary care in Zambia. Surveys were conducted with 111 health service providers in primary care centres, in both rural and urban settings.
The study results show that there is strong support from health service providers for integrating mental health into primary health care. They view this as a way to facilitate early detection and intervention for mental health issues. They also believe this would contribute to the reduction of stigma and the promotion of human rights for people with mental health issues.
The authors recommend that health care providers should receive basic training in mental health to enhance their skills and knowledge in providing mental health care at a primary health care level.
This research was funded by the UK Department for International Development and researchers included members of the Mental Health and Poverty Project. The purpose of MHaPP is to develop, implement and evaluate mental health policy in poor countries.
See “Integrating Mental Health into Primary Health Care in Zambia: A Care Provider’s Perspective,” International Journal of Mental Health Systems(2010; 4: ), available at www.ijmhs.com. For more information about MHaPP, see workhorse.pry.uct.ac.za:8080/MHAPP.