The Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh and Rwanda have announced the ‘Kigali-Dhaka Compact on Mental Health’ to mobilise a Commonwealth-wide awareness campaign and policy interventions to tackle mental health challenges post-COVID.
The project was launched during a meeting held on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Attending the meeting, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland QC, the First Lady of Rwanda, H.E. Jeanette Kagame, the Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Vincent Biruta, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; and Advisor to the WHO Director-General on Mental Health and Autism, Saima Wazed Hossain, They were joined by Commonwealth ministers and dignitaries, civil society, and mental health experts from across the Commonwealth.
“This discussion could not be more timely or more important. I really do believe that there is more awareness of the huge significance of mental health in our world today than at any other point in living memory,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
“This is especially important after two years of lockdown and disruption for all of us; isolation for many; loneliness for many more; and enormous change, challenge and disruption. There is no doubt that challenges associated with mental health have been amplified by the pandemic.”
In a special keynote address, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, added: “COVID-19 has highlighted the gaps in the capacity of health systems around the world to address mental health conditions. Investment remains low, and the stigma surrounding it remains high.
“Now, as many countries work to resume services, there is an opportunity to build back better, by scaling up the provision of community-based mental health services and integrating them into primary health care, as part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.”
The event follows continuous calls to address the rising global burden of mental health that has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among young people, women, children, and health workers.
Panellists shared recommendations on how to develop an integrated and cross-sectoral approach, leveraging digital innovations to provide diagnosis and care, and addressing human resource gaps to ensure sufficient resources for dedicated services.
These recommendations include:
- Strengthening national health policies to align with the international legislative standards of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
- Ensuring health provisions account for more than 2 per cent of national health budgets.
- Challenging stigma and discrimination at community level.
- Integrating prevention, care, treatment and support into the mainstream school programmes.
- Addressing the social determinants of mental health in a cross-sectoral and holistic manner to reduce both disparities.
The CHOGM is bringing together leaders to discuss on the most pressing hurdles members from across the Commonwealth are facing.
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat