Mental health as an integral part of primary healthcare has many advantages
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged all United Nations member states and development partners to invest resources in dealing with mental health and disabilities as part of primary healthcare program.
"I call everyone, all member states and development partners, to invest resources in dealing with mental health and disabilities as part of the primary healthcare program," she said.
The prime minister made the call while addressing the high-panel side event on "Sustainable universal health coverage: Comprehensive primary care inclusive of mental health and disabilities", organized by the Bangladesh Permanent Mission at the UN Headquarters on Friday.
She said recognizing mental health as an integral part of primary healthcare has many advantages.
"First, early diagnosis and intervention can help in a fast recovery. Secondly, in the case of comorbidity or presence of two or more diseases in one individual, treatment of mental health helps the remission of the other disease," she pointed out.
"Thirdly, community clinics can also provide continuous follow-up care in case of any treatment prescribed by hospitals," she said.
She continued: "We need access to medicines and affordable quality services through trained health personnel, and an efficient delivery system. We also need special strategies to prevent mental disorders."
The prime minister said: "We introduced 'Community Health Clinics' (CHC) during the first term of our government in 1998.
"Over 14,000 clinics, located primarily in rural areas, were set up through public-private partnership. To establish such clinics, the community donates the land, and the government constructs buildings, and provides skilled personnel, medicine and equipment free of cost," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said community clinics are now recognized as an effective model for providing universal health coverage, which is inclusive of preventive mental health services and basic care for persons with disabilities.
She said the government adopted the "Persons with Disabilities' Rights and Protection Act 2013" and "Mental Health Act" in 2018.
"Bangladesh is now developing a 'National Strategic Plan on Mental Health' by prioritizing multi-stakeholder, comprehensive and holistic community-based mental health services, she said.
Today, Hasina said, the international community will come forward sharing their valuable experiences and help identify technical and financial resources.
Health is an integral part of the development journey and essential for continued economic and social progress, she said.
"The 'Universal Health Coverage' helps ensure access to quality health services without adding financial hardship to the disadvantaged people. The 'Primary Health Care' also provides essential health care to the people," she said.
The prime minister mentioned that 'Target 3.4' of SDGs emphasizes promotion of mental health and well-being as part of health security. Disability is also recognized as a global public health issue with human rights dimensions as well as a development priority.
She said the WHO global action plan on disability also envisioned an inclusive society in which all persons with disabilities can live with dignity and equal opportunity.
"In Bangladesh, we are pursuing both the issues seriously in formulating our health policies and programs," the prime minister said.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of Health and Population Upendra Yadav and WHO Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh spoke at the event chaired by Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Zahid Maleque.
Adviser to the Director General of WHO on Mental Health and Autism and also the Chairperson of National Advisory Committee on Autism and NDDs, Bangladesh Saima Wazed Hossain, Director General of Directorate General of Health Services, Bangladesh Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Chief of Health and Associate Director (Programme Division) of Unicef Dr Stefan Swartling Peterson, and CEO and Founder of Global Partners United Evelyn Cherow were among expert discussants at the event.