Diaspora and Mental Health

It is relatively common to read that the key issue in many low and middle income countries, in terms of mental health, is the ‘treatment gap’ – essentially, the difference between the number of people who need mental health care (many) and the availability of those with the skills to provide it (few). There is an underlying belief that the way to address this gap is through ‘task shifting’ (or ‘sharing’ as it has become politically correct to state) within (eg) primary health care settings and while this might have merit, there is one group almost totally ignored in the various considerations of the key issues – the role of the diaspora. As has been shown in many countries, the role of experts who have left one country to go and live in another can be engaged through ‘virtual medicine’ with the use of, often, relatively low bandwidth connectivity. In the case of Nigeria, Gede is currently talking to partners to see how members of the diaspora (initially based in London, UK) could be engaged to help mentor facility based health workers – Drs and Adherence Counsellors. Watch this space.