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Dhaka Tribune

Experts for access to care for those with mental disorders in slums

'People go to faith-based healers. Without integrating them in the mental health service system, it is impossible to put people in scientific treatment system'

Update : 02 Dec 2023, 04:23 PM

Mental health experts at a discussion in Dhaka at Hotel Holiday Inn on Thursday highlighted the need for ensuring access to care for people with serious mental disorders in slums in Bangladesh to build a sound and healthy nation.

The country’s renowned mental health expert Dr. Md. Golam Rabbani, ex-director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Bangladesh mentioned mental health gap in Bangladesh is a well-established fact, access to care of mental health is insufficient in Bangladesh and it is acute for the vulnerable and marginalized people suffering from mental disorders, especially those are slum dwellers in Dhaka.

Telepsychiatry Research and Innovation Network (TRIN) Limited, the implementing partner of "Transforming Access to Care for Serious Mental Disorders in Slums- the TRANSFORM Project" organized this expert meeting.

Dr. Tanjir Rashid Soron, principal investigator-TRANSFORM Project Bangladesh shared the ethnographic research findings conducted in Korail Slum and the training modules developed for the traditional and faith-based healers and community health workers with the experts.

Dr. Soron said that the TRANSFORM-Bangladesh is implementing the project aiming to increase access to biomedical care by developing a collaborative approach among traditional and faith-based healers, primary health care practitioners, mental health professionals, and community health care workers.

The TRANSFORM-Bangladesh is working to develop a culture-specific, effective, and acceptable Training Module for the traditional and faith-based healers and community health workers of the slum community.

The importance of Traditional and faith-based healers was described by NIMH Director Prof. Dr. Avra Das Bhowmik.

"People are used to going to faith-based healers and without incorporating them in the mental health service system it is not possible to put people in a scientific treatment system. If we can train them in mental health problem screening and identification and referral system may have positive change in mental health treatment."

He also mentioned the importance of evidence-based research, intervention, and scale-up to learning.    

Prof. Dr. Bigd. General Md. Azizul Islam, President, BAP, Prof. Kamal Chowdhury, Dept. of Clinical Psychology, DU, Prof. Dr. Wasiful Alam, Dept Public Health, AIUB, Prof. Dr. Nahid Mahjaben Morshed, Chairman of Psychiatry dept, BSMMU and other experts from NCDC, icddr’b, ULAB, Sajeda Foundation and BUET provide their thoughts and feedback on the module.

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