- Highlights progress made since launch of the strategy.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 21, 2019: In 2018, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched the Mental Health Strategy for the emirate. The strat¬egy known as Happy Lives…..Healthy Community is Dubai’s first comprehensive mental health strategy and is applica¬ble across all public and private health entities in the emirate.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’
During the launch of the strategy, His Excellency Humaid Al Qutami, Director General of Dubai Health Authority had discussed the importance of such a strategy. He said, “The strategy demonstrates the commitment of the DHA to build a world-class healthcare sys¬tem to meet the needs of its residents. It clearly reflects the DHA’s vision towards a healthier and happier community. It also reflects the greater Dubai 2021 vision for the city of Dubai to be a smart and sustainable city, with people who are happy, cre¬ative and empowered, a society that is inclusive and cohesive, and to be the preferred place to live, work and visit.”
The strategy is part of the overall Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021, that was designed after comprehensive analysis of the heath sector and after identifying gaps and challenges as well as strengths and opportunities.
Dr Nadia Dabbagh, Consul¬tant Child and Adolescent Psy¬chiatrist at Rashid Hospital and Programme Lead for the Mental Health Strategy at the DHA, high¬lighted during the ongoing Dubai Health Forum that the implementation plan is divided into waves based on priorities, needs and re¬sources and according to the four pillars of the strategy. The pillars are: legislation and gov¬ernance; promotion, prevention and early intervention; service delivery and treatment; and community integration.
Dr Dabbagh said, “Dubai’s mental health strategy is under-pinned by guiding principles that are based on internation¬al, evidence-based research and best practice, as well as in¬corporating the views of local subject matter experts working in Dubai. The key guiding prin¬ciples include respect for the rights and needs of service users and their families, prevention and early intervention across the life span including vulner¬able groups, recognition of the spectrum of mental health dif-ficulties and the need for equi¬table service delivery across the health continuum with a com¬mitment to a recovery-oriented approach and social inclusion.”
Farah Aqel, Strategic Planning Specialist in the Data Analysis, Research and Studies Department at the DHA, said that since the launch of the strategy, the Authority has made steady progress in implementing initiatives that will help the Authority achieve the ten mental health development and improvement programmes in Dubai by 2021, which is a core part of the strategy.
The nine initiatives of the strategy are
1. Mental health legislation
2. Governance and regulation
3. Promotion and awareness
5. Early intervention
6. Innovative models of service delivery
7. Workforce development, recruitment and retention
8. Facilities and infrastructure
9. Patient empowerment programmes
Aqel said in 2018, DHA provided its feedback and comments about the mental health act and the mental health policy for the UAE. This initiate was spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and DHA participated in it and provided its expert opinion on the matter.
In 2018, DHA was invited to participate in an event organized by Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery ‐ Dubai to discuss Scaling Up Community Health Worker-Delivered Interventions for Common Mental Disorders. The Mohammed Bin Rashid University (MBRU) in Dubai Healthcare City organised the workshop.
DHA also participated in a focused Child and Adolescent Mental Health Creative Lab known as “With Hope Dubai” that was conducted by The Executive Council to evaluate and address the existing gaps in meeting the mental health needs of Dubai’s children and youth.
The team is also working closely with the Public Health Protection Department at the DHA to chalk out initiatives that will help raise awareness of mental health issues and the importance of early intervention the community.
According to WHO, more than 450 million people suffer from men¬tal disorders worldwide, and one in four people will develop a mental or behavioural disor¬der during their lifetime. These disorders include schizophre¬nia, bipolar affective disorder, depression, alcohol and other drug disorders and a range of anxiety disorders. The preva¬lence of mental and behavioural disorders is about 10% for the adult population worldwide. Twenty percent of the adoles¬cents under the age of 18 suffer from developmental, emotional, or behavioural problems.
Globally, mental disorders are expect¬ed to be second only to heart disease as a leading source of the global burden of disease by the year 2020.
Mental disorders are costly to the individual, families and communities. The Global Hap¬piness Survey Report 2018 that was released at the Government Summit in February 2018, states that untreated mental illness re¬duces the GNP of countries by four per cent. Many other costs associated with mental illness are indirect or hidden.