The Americas Ministerial Summit Oct 2019

10 Oct 2019

On October 1st, 2019, the 57th annual meeting of Ministers of Health from the Americas took place in Washington D.C. under the auspices of PAHO/WHO. In a historic moment, the first ever side event on mental at a Regional Ministerial meeting took place with the auspices of the Ministries of Health from Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The event was attended by several other Ministers of Health, Mental Health officers, and representatives of various organizations from most of the regional countries.

There were major speeches from the Ministers updating the audience on their work and plans, with a clear commitment to update the mission and renew the efforts. It is expected that this was the kick-off for a new proposal of an ambitious program to reduce the treatment gap for mental disorders in the region. Professor Araya, King's College London Director of the CGMH, as well as Devorah Kestel, Head of Mental Health at WHO Geneva spoke at the meeting.

Professor Araya showed that the proportion of the health budget that goes to mental health is on average 2% whilst the proportion of the burden of disease attributed to mental illness is 20%. Professor Araya emphasised that this is clearly a shameful gap on our region that needs immediate action. He urged the Ministers to take on a single commitment: Double the proportion of the current expenditure within the next 3 years and match at least half of the burden by the Year 2030. This is an objective goal, easier to measure, and essential to accomplish to prove that our region can deliver more than just words!

Prof Araya is pictured with the Secretary of State for Health from Argentina and at the meeting.