New Delhi: The member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region on Tuesday adopted the Paro Declaration committing to universal access to people-centered mental health care and services to promote mental health in the region.
The Paro Declaration urges member countries to develop and implement multi-sectoral policies to address mental health risks. The declaration was adopted at the Ministerial Roundtable on addressing mental health through primary care and community engagement on Day 2 of the ongoing 75th session of the WHO South-East Asia Regional Committee Session in Paro, Bhutan.
Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar addressed the member states at the roundtable meet. “We have launched a tele-mental health programme by trained counsellors throughout the country to ensure continuum of care and referral services & upgraded hospitals, including setting up 25 Centres of Excellence for mental health”, said Pawar.
“There is no health without mental health. Increasing investments in mental health, including for preventive and promotive services at the primary care level, reduces treatment costs and increases productivity, employment and quality of life,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
Talking about the declaration, she said that it urges member countries to develop and implement multi-sectoral policies across the life-course to address mental health risks and reduce treatment gaps exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that mental health services reach all those in need, close to where they live, without financial hardship.
As part of the Declaration, member countries also agreed to develop country-specific targets to achieve universal primary care-oriented mental health services and mainstream mental health in policy planning, implementation, and evaluation.
The Paro Declaration also calls for increased funding for community-based mental health networks and continuous supply of medicines and rehabilitation, including occupational therapy for everyone who needed them, and strengthening of data gathering and reporting to ensure context-sensitive improvement of mental health systems.