Nigeria Contextualizes Latest WHO’s MHGAP to Bridge Mental Health Gap

Nigeria Contextualizes Latest WHO’s MHGAP to Bridge Mental Health Gap


By The Tochlight Africa News

In a significant step forward for mental healthcare, Nigeria has become the first country to contextualize the newest version of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Programme (MHGAP 3.0). This initiative, led by the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP), demonstrates the government’s dedication to bridging the vast mental health gap in Nigeria.

Mental health conditions pose a critical challenge globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. 90% treatment gap exists, meaning only a fraction of those needing mental healthcare receive it. This gap is exacerbated by a lack of mental health professionals, further amplified by emigration.

The WHO introduced MHGAP to expand mental health services in non-specialized settings. Recognizing the need for a tailored approach, Nigeria contextualized the initial version, which was then adopted nationally. Since then, WHO has released updated versions, prompting Nigeria to lead the way again by contextualizing the MHGAP 3.0 which was launched in November 2023.

Dr. Chukwuma Ayanike, Director of Public Health, emphasized the government’s commitment during a recent stakeholder workshop. He highlighted plans to integrate mental health into primary care and other programs to address the treatment gap comprehensively.

Nigeria’s leadership in MHGAP contextualization is not new. Professor Oye Gureje spearheaded the contextualization of the first version in 2011 with support from WHO . While initial implementation faced hurdles, Nigeria remains resolute in tackling mental healthcare challenges.

In his address, Dr. Ojo Tunde Masseyferguson, National Coordinator for the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) at the Federal Ministry of Health, commended Nigeria’s global leadership in contextualizing MHGAP. He emphasized the transformative impact of the workshop’s outcomes on mental health service delivery in Nigeria, urging all stakeholders to embrace MHGAP as the primary tool for integrating mental health across all levels of healthcare service delivery.

The workshop aimed to develop a document enhancing the capacity of non-specialized healthcare workers to identify, manage, and refer common mental health conditions, thus improving access to mental health services nationwide. Prof. Oye Gureje, Chairman of the National Technical Working Group on Mental Health and Director of the WHO Centre for Training and Research in Mental Health, Neuroscience, and Substance Abuse, spearheaded this collaborative effort.

Stakeholders from various sectors, including relevant government agencies like the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, professional bodies, academia, development partners, NGOs/CSOs, and individuals with lived experience, actively participated in the workshop. The Clinton Health Access Initiative played a pivotal role in supporting the contextualization process, with the Deputy Country Director reaffirming their commitment to addressing Nigeria’s mental health gap and bolstering the healthcare system.

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