Médecins du Monde (MdM) has initiated this month a series of training courses continuing until 29 April for primary health care staff on the basics of mental health and psychosocial services.
The training package includes counseling skills, psychological first aid and the World Health Organization's mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) .
Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) provides emergency and long-term medical care to the world's most vulnerable people and aims to end healthcare inequities.
The new training project aims to improve the integration of mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) into primary health care facilities through building the capacities of primary health care staff.
The project will be implemented in 12 primary health care facilities in Cairo and Giza in collaboration with the General Administration of Integrated Health Care.
Selin Bodek, the head of MdM in Egypt, said that the training sessions constitute a major milestone in a three-year project that aims to improve mental health care in the Greater Cairo area.
To assure the efficiency of the services' integration, the training sessions will be followed-up with regular supervisions and on-the-job training.
“The ministry aims to include MHPSS because it is a global trend, recommended by the WHO. Therefore, the integration of MHPSS in PHC is imperative," Ministry of Health representative and the Head of Disability Prevention directorate Nahed El-Gharib stated.
"We need to detect mental disorders, since they are associated with physical symptoms. Also the scarcity of psychiatrists, not only in Egypt but also worldwide, necessitates the mainstreaming of MHPSS," she added.
The ultimate aim of the program is to help make MHPSS available to all in Egypt, and to improve rates of early detection, as it increases the likelihood of a patient's positive response to treatment and reduces the average number of days of hospitalization.
The trainings target a wide range of medical staff in the PHC facilities, be they family physicians, general practitioners, nurses, social workers, gynecologists or pediatricians.
It also aims to improve the capacities of PHC staff to identify basic mental health disorders, provide basic interventions and refer complex cases to secondary and tertiary services in attempt to break stigma and discrimination associated mental health.
Médecins du Monde was founded in 1980 by a group of 15 French physicians, including Bernard Kouchner, and works in both the developed and developing world.