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Current coverage of mental healthcare in low- and middle-income countries is very limited, not only in terms of access to services but also in terms of financial protection of individuals in need of care and treatment.
To identify the challenges, opportunities and strategies for more equitable and sustainable mental health financing in six sub-Saharan African and South Asian countries, namely Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.
In the context of a mental health systems research project (Emerald), a multi-methods approach was implemented consisting of three steps: a quantitative and narrative assessment of each country's disease burden profile, health system and macro-fiscal situation; in-depth interviews with expert stakeholders; and a policy analysis of sustainable financing options.
Key challenges identified for sustainable mental health financing include the low level of funding accorded to mental health services, widespread inequalities in access and poverty, although opportunities exist in the form of new political interest in mental health and ongoing reforms to national insurance schemes. Inclusion of mental health within planned or nascent national health insurance schemes was identified as a key strategy for moving towards more equitable and sustainable mental health financing in all six countries.
Including mental health in ongoing national health insurance reforms represent the most important strategic opportunity in the six participating countries to secure enhanced service provision and financial protection for individuals and households affected by mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities.
Declaration of interest
D.C. is a staff member of the World Health Organization.
Strengthening of mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) requires the involvement of appropriately skilled and committed individuals from a range of stakeholder groups. Currently, few evidence-based capacity-building activities and materials are available to enable and sustain comprehensive improvements.
Within the Emerald project, the goal of this study was to evaluate capacity-building activities for three target groups: (a) service users with mental health conditions and their caregivers; (b) policymakers and planners; and (c) mental health researchers.
We developed and tailored three short courses (between 1 and 5 days long). We then implemented and evaluated these short courses on 24 different occasions. We assessed satisfaction among 527 course participants as well as pre–post changes in knowledge in six LMICs (Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda). Changes in research capacity of partner Emerald institutions was also assessed through monitoring of academic outputs of participating researchers and students and via anonymous surveys.
Short courses were associated with high levels of satisfaction and led to improvements in knowledge across target groups. In relation to institutional capacity building, all partner institutions reported improvements in research capacity for most aspects of mental health system strengthening and global mental health, and many of these positive changes were attributed to the Emerald programme. In terms of outputs, eight PhD students submitted a total of 10 papers relating to their PhD work (range 0–4) and were involved in 14 grant applications, of which 43% (n = 6) were successful.
The Emerald project has shown that building capacity of key stakeholders in mental health system strengthening is possible. However, the starting point and appropriate strategies for this may vary across different countries, depending on the local context, needs and resources.
There is a large treatment gap for mental, neurological or substance use (MNS) disorders. The ‘Emerging mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)’ (Emerald) research programme attempted to identify strategies to work towards reducing this gap through the strengthening of mental health systems.
To provide a set of proposed recommendations for mental health system strengthening in LMICs.
The Emerald programme was implemented in six LMICs in Africa and Asia (Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda) over a 5-year period (2012–2017), and aimed to improve mental health outcomes in the six countries by building capacity and generating evidence to enhance health system strengthening.
The proposed recommendations align closely with the World Health Organization's key health system strengthening ‘building blocks’ of governance, financing, human resource development, service provision and information systems; knowledge transfer is included as an additional cross-cutting component. Specific recommendations are made in the paper for each of these building blocks based on the body of data that were collected and analysed during Emerald.
These recommendations are relevant not only to the six countries in which their evidential basis was generated, but to other LMICs as well; they may also be generalisable to other non-communicable diseases beyond MNS disorders.
The Emerald project's focus is on how to strengthen mental health systems in six low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) (Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda). This was done by generating evidence and capacity to enhance health system performance in delivering mental healthcare.
A common problem in scaling-up interventions and strengthening mental health programmes in LMICs is how to transfer research evidence, such as the data collected in the Emerald project, into practice.
To describe how core elements of Emerald were implemented and aligned with the ultimate goal of strengthening mental health systems, as well as their short-term impact on practices, policies and programmes in the six partner countries.
We focused on the involvement of policy planners, managers, patients and carers.
Over 5 years of collaboration, the Emerald consortium has provided evidence and tools for the improvement of mental healthcare in the six LMICs involved in the project. We found that the knowledge transfer efforts had an impact on mental health service delivery and policy planning at the sites and countries involved in the project.
This approach may be valid beyond the mental health context, and may be effective for any initiative that aims at implementing evidence-based health policies for health system strengthening.
Little is known about the household economic costs associated with mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) disorders in low- and middle-income countries.
To assess the association between MNS disorders and household education, consumption, production, assets and financial coping strategies in Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.
We conducted an exploratory cross-sectional household survey in one district in each country, comparing the economic circumstances of households with an MNS disorder (alcohol-use disorder, depression, epilepsy or psychosis) (n = 2339) and control households (n = 1982).
Despite some heterogeneity between MNS disorder groups and countries, households with a member with an MNS disorder had generally lower levels of adult education; lower housing standards, total household income, effective income and non-health consumption; less asset-based wealth; higher healthcare expenditure; and greater use of deleterious financial coping strategies.
Households living with a member who has an MNS disorder constitute an economically vulnerable group who are susceptible to chronic poverty and intergenerational poverty transmission.
Declaration of interest
D.C. is a staff member of the World Health Organization. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the decisions, policy or views of the World Health Organization.
We investigated whether diversification and/or structural change would improve Norwegian agriculture. Using a flexible technology approach to account for different technologies, we assessed economies of scope and scale of dairy and cropping farms, including regional differences. We fitted translog cost functions to farm-level panel data for the period 1991–2014. We found both economies of scope and scale on the farms. Dairy farms have an economic incentive to integrate dairying with cropping in all regions of Norway, and vice versa. Thus, policy makers should eschew interventions that inhibit diversification or structural change and that increase the costs of food production.
The recently discovered orthorhombic allotrope of silicon, Si24, is an exciting prospective material for the future of solar energy due to a quasi-direct bandgap near 1.3 eV, coupled with the abundance and environmental stability of silicon. Synthesized via precursor Na4Si24 at high temperature and pressure (∼850 °C, 9 GPa), typical synthesis results have yielded polycrystalline samples with crystallites on the order of 20 μm. Several approaches to increase the crystal size have yielded success, including in-situ thermal spikes and refined selection of the starting materials. Microstructural analysis suggests that coherency exists between diamond silicon (d-Si) and Na4Si24. This hypothesis has led to the successful attempts at single crystal synthesis by selecting large crystals of d-Si along with metallic Na as the precursors rather than powdered and mixed precursor material. The new synthesis approach has yielded single crystals of Na4Si24 greater than 100 μm. These results represent a breakthrough in synthesis that enables further characterization and utility. The promise of Si24 for the future of solar energy generation and efficient electronics is strengthened through these advances in synthesis.