The Ministry of Public Health Launches the Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy for Lebanon
The Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and International Medical Corps (IMC), are launching the Mental Health and Substance Use Prevention, Promotion, and Treatment Strategy for Lebanon to ensure accessibility of high quality mental healthcare to all populations in Lebanon. Governmental entities, ministries, local and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, syndicates, societies, and academia, among others attended today’s launching. This marks an important milestone for mental health reform, especially considering that mental and substance use disorders are prevalent in Lebanon and at the top of public health priorities.
The current strategy document is the result of a participatory exercise involving all actors in the field of mental health and substance use in Lebanon as well as international experts. The strategy, comprising all national priorities identified by the main actors, underwent many stages of consultations that concluded with a national consensus-building meeting in April 2015 to approve its final draft.
The strategy addresses mental and substance use disorders in a cost-effective, evidence-based and multidisciplinary approach with an emphasis on community involvement, continuum of care, human rights, and cultural relevance. The goals and domains of action of the Strategy are in line with the WHO Global Action Plan for Mental Health (2013-2020). The strategy covers five domains; strengthening effective leadership and governance for mental health (domain 1); providing comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings for all populations (domain 2) especially the needs of specific vulnerable groups (domain 5). Another domain also deals with implementing key promotion and prevention activities for mental health and substance use disorders (domain 3) and obtaining evidence-based knowledge to inform mental health policy and service development through an operational Health Information System and coordinated national research practice (domain 4).
Mental health is an integral part of health. As stated by WHO, there is no health without mental health. Today’s release of Lebanon’s first mental health and substance use strategy is only the beginning; the next step will require that the government adequately funds and implements this strategy. With national leadership and provincial partnerships, it is possible for Lebanese to get the help they need when they need it.
“The result of this participatory endeavour is a well-informed national strategy owned and supported by all relevant actors. This, in particular, will change the life of many people and will improve mental health in Lebanon,” said H.E. Wael Abou Faour, Minister of Public Health.
“We remain confident that the same collaboration that led to producing this strategy will continue in the future to ensure the implementation with the same commitment and enthusiasm,” said Dr Walid Ammar, Director General, Ministry of Public Health.
“I would like to thank the Ministry for taking a strong leadership role and for its trust in WHO as technical partner. Let me reiterate the commitment of WHO to support the Ministry in translating the strategy document into action,” said Dr Gabriele Riedner, WHO acting representative in Lebanon.
“UNICEF remains ready to support the Ministry to achieve the important goals of the strategy as part of its on-going commitment to children and women in Lebanon,” said Mr Luciano Calestini, UNICEF acting representative in Lebanon.
“International Medical Corps has been working with the Ministry of Public Health and World Health Organization to develop sustainable mental health care provision in Lebanon. The strategy now developed, will ensure that the health care needs of both refugees and host communities are met,” said Mr François de la Roche, Director of IMC Lebanon office.