AFFIRM: AFrica Focus on Intervention Research for Mental health
There is growing international consensus that a task sharing approach is required in LMICs in which low-cost interventions are delivered by general health workers, supervised by mental health specialists, through routine health care delivery systems. At the same time, mental health research capacity and infrastructure in Africa are extremely limited, with little dedicated funding, a scarcity of trained mental health research personnel, a dearth of infrastructural support, and few opportunities for training and supervision in mental health research.
AFFIRM was a hub for research and capacity development to improve the delivery of cost-effective interventions for mental disorders in sub-Saharan Africa. Through collaborations in five African countries AFFIRM investigated strategies for narrowing the mental health treatment gap in sub-Saharan Africa; built individual and institutional capacity for intervention research in sub-Saharan Africa; established a network of collaboration between researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government agencies that facilitated the translation of research knowledge into policy and practice; and, collaborated with other regional NIMH hubs.
AFFIRM brought together a range of multi-disciplinary researchers, policy makers and NGO practitioners, and built on previous partnerships, with a focus on empirically testing innovative models of task shifting in low resource primary health care settings.
AFFIRM generated new evidence on the cost-effectiveness of task sharing interventions for maternal depression in South Africa and severe mental illness in Ethiopia; provided 25 Masters Fellowships and supported five PhDs; and developed research and policy networks that have been sustained beyond the life of the programme.