A. Background And Justification:
- There is a general shortage of health care professionals in West Africa. In Ghana this lack is particularly pronounced in the mental health sector where there are 4 psychiatrists, 700 psychiatric nurses, no psychologists, no occupational therapists and no psychiatric social workers in the public sector. Ghanaian psychiatrists and other mental health professionals practising in the North America and The UK far outnumber those in Ghana. This situation is due mainly to unsatisfactory service conditions (including low levels of remuneration) and attrition to other sectors within the health service. The effect of this shortage in human resources is largely seen on the delivery of mental health services in primary care, particularly in rural areas because most of this mental health work force is located in the urban areas.
- The absence of a coherent human resource policy which aims to systematically recruit and retain mental health professionals has also led to a shortage of mental health educators, an ageing workforce and poor and inequitable access to mental health care especially in remote and rural areas.
- Individual diasporas efforts to address the challenges so far have excellent and heroic but ineffective and unsustainable because they have been patchy and uncoordinated. As part of the efforts to address these difficulties, the Mental Health Educators in the Diaspora (MHED), an international multidisciplinary faculty of mental health professionals in the Diaspora, was formed in 2004 to provide leadership and coordination in diasporas endeavours.
- The scope of mental health skills and competencies of faculty members encompass: general adult psychiatry, child and learning disability psychiatry, old age psychiatry, psychiatric epidemiology, psychiatric nursing, mental health promotion, medical demography
B. Aims & Objectives
- To proactively seek and create opportunities for teaching, learning, service provision and research in a wide variety of settings. These include, rural, community-based, general and district hospital-based, teaching hospitals
- To attract and recruit more members in the Diaspora and to coordinate their individual efforts.
- To raise funds through individual and collective initiatives to support the activities of this charity.
- To solicit educational materials for mental health and psychiatric education.
- To solicit for psychotropic drugs for the treatment of people with mental and neurological disorders living in rural areas of Ghana and other parts of West Africa.
- To collaborate with other organisations involved in teaching in developing countries e.g. Tropical Health Education Trust (THET), with a view to introducing mental health components into already established LINKS with NHS Trusts in the UK.
- To collaborate with other Diaspora initiatives, e.g. Diaspora Volunteer Initiative of VSO, International organisation for migration (IOM), Ghana MIDA Health project.
- To partner with the Education Committee, Ghana Doctors and Dentists Association, UK and the Ghana Nurses association UK.
- To collaborate with institutions of higher learning engaged in Global Health Initiatives, including the Board of International Affairs of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK-volunteering initiative.
- South-South collaboration: To draw on the expertise of well-established and vibrant training institutions in Africa.
- To create opportunities for mental health professional based in West Africa gain short-term attachments and attend short courses in Europe and North America
C. Advantages Of Involving Diasporas In International Human Resource Volunteering Initiatives:
- Shorter time for diasporas to adjust to “reverse culture shock”
- Diaspora volunteers not requiring training in the local languages.
- Emotional investment of diasporas in their continent or country of origin –e.g. Diasporas have family ties and investments.
- Appeal to sense of patriotism.
- Route by which brain drain can be reversed: returning diasporas gradually making inroads with each short working visit. E.g Dr Abayomi Fashola, of Nigerian origin relocated permanently from the UK to Ghana after a successful IOM sponsored volunteering assignment.
D. Current Activities:
- To teach undergraduate medical and nursing students
- Postgraduate psychiatric teaching: Ghana College of Physicians & Surgeons
- Post Basic psychiatric Nursing teaching, e.g. Public Health Nurses Training School, Accra
- Basic Psychiatric Nursing Training at, Ankaful and Pantang schools of nursing.
- Mental Health training for Medical Assistants, Technical officers and Field Technicians in Ghana
- Tutor support through the internet; email and e-groups
- Pre-service and in-service Mental Health training for Health Care Assistants, Community Health Nurses, Community Health Officers
E. Future Educational Initiatives:
There are a number of educational activities planned for the future. For a list of some of the activities, please click here.....
MHED’s entry on its International Diaspora Volunteering Initiatives, ‘Sharing Knowledge for Development in Mental Health Education”, was one of the top 10 initiatives selected out of 110 entries for display at the first Migration and Development Knowledge Virtual Fair organised by the and European Commission United Nations Joint Migration and Development Initiative (EC-UN JMDI), held online between 2-3rd November 2009. For more information on this event, click here....
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