WHO facilitates training of health workers on mental health service provision in humanitarian setting

On 27 May to 02 June 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborated with Mekelle University and Tigray Regional Health Bureau to provide training of trainers (ToT) on mental health service provision in humanitarian settings using the Mental Health Gap Action (mhGAP – Humanitarian Version) to 33 health care professionals workers including psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, and general practitioners from Tigray.    

The last two days of the training were dedicated to sessions on supportive supervision of mental health services. The ToT was conducted with the purpose of having a reasonable number of trainers to roll out and cascade the training.. After the training, participants will become trainers for primary health care workers to increase the number of health professionals with the capacity to address the basic needs for mental health services, including counseling, prescribing medications and referrals, at health facilities and in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP camps). It can also create an opportunity to integrate mental health services with the other health services through task sharing.

“This training will help build a pool of health professionals who can diagnose, treat and refer cases that need treatment for mental health,” said Kinfe Tesfay, a mental health expert from Mekelle University working in Ayder Hospital, and chief trainer at the training program.

The humanitarian situation that followed the conflict in northern Ethiopia heightened the need for strong mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) at health facilities as thousands have been displaced, been separated from family, and have endured distressing experiences while hundreds of women have been victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

Speaking at the opening of the training, Dr Emmanuel Musa, WHO Incident Manager for the northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Response reminded participants that responding to the mental health needs of the people will require commitment and hard work, and assured them that WHO is keen to continue supporting the expansion and strengthening of MHPSS in the region.

The Health Bureau has deployed 57 psychiatry and psychology professionals to serve in IDP camps. Appointment of a mental health focal person at the Regional Health Bureau is also underway. WHO has deployed one mental health expert to the region to provide technical support with the Tigray Regional Health Bureau in addition to the provision of medicines for the treatment of mental illness.


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