Professor Melanie Abas
I have researched, published and mentored widely in the field of depression in low and middle-income countries and in vulnerable migrants in high-income and middle-income countries. This has included developing methods to measure depression, anxiety and trauma-related disorders validly in cross-cultural groups, research to develop and trial interventions, and research to implement and scale-up interventions for depression in low-income countries. My work has had impact, for example for people living in poverty in Zimbabwe and for those caring for trafficked populations in the UK. I have developed models for integrating depression care into primary care and HIV care which have had impact in an African context. This includes being co-investigator on the Friendship Bench program in Zimbabwe, now the largest depression program in any low-income African country. These programs are delivered through task-sharing with non-specialists. I continue to work on expanding these to rural areas of low income countries and to younger age groups. I work on interventions for depression and trauma-related disorders at the interface with physical illness (especially HIV), and at the interface with the priorities of work, education and gender equality. I have a program of research on depression and HIV in Zimbabwe. This includes clinical trials aimed at increasing viral suppression through better approaches to adherence counselling and through improving mental health and economic wellbeing. My vision of task-sharing to grow access to care for depression and anxiety disorders is expanding to creative arts programs and the private sector. My work has been characterised by research capacity building. I was a co-principal investigator on a Medical Education Partnership Initiative program, a platform which built capacity across a network of 13 African medical schools, funded by PEPFAR and the NIH . I continue to provide formal research mentorship to two heads of department at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences as well as supervising Wellcome Trust fellows and PhD students. I am the lead for King's College London of one of the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science programs funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development to build research capacity in African mental health scientists.