News from the Regions

Africa

Shona Sturgeon, WFMH Vice President for Africa, participated as an adviser in the South African Concerted Action Workshop which was organized in Cape Town on 17-19 March, and then in the Zambian Concerted Action Workshop held in that country on 22-26 March. Isaac Mwendapole, President of the WFMH African Regional Council, also participated as an adviser to the Zambian Workshop.

The aims of the workshops included making recommendations on mental health priorities, documenting the gaps between policy and practice in the mental health field and identifying research priorities. They were well attended by key policy makers, researchers and practitioners from the government and NGO sectors. As South Africa is currently reviewing its mental health act and has recently embarked on a primary health care model of service delivery, the timing of the South African workshop was particularly helpful.

The Zambian workshop also provided training for mental health workers in Rapid Appraisal Methods of Research, in order to develop local research capacity for gathering more accurate information on mental health issues. It was hosted by John Mayaya, the Mental Health Specialist at the Central Board of Health of Zambia. The visit to Zambia afforded Shona Sturgeon the opportunity to work with Isaac Mwendapole on African Regional Council matters, and to work with Zambian colleagues on problems facing local mental health NGOs. She was also able to visit mental health facilities. Because of communication difficulties in Africa, opportunities such as this are valuable in extending the network of WFMH contacts throughout the region.

These workshops are part of the European Commission-funded Concerted Action Project on Methods for Intervention on Mental Health in Sub-Saharan Africa, which was initiated in March 1998 by the South Bank University in London. The project aims to examine mental health care in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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