“Launch of Prevention and Management of Mental Health Conditions in Uzbekistan”
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- Today, on 27 October, the WHO Country Office in Uzbekistan, in collaboration with UNDP, United Nations Interagency Task Force on Non communicable diseases (NCD), organized an event dedicated to launching the first "Mental Health Investment Case" in Uzbekistan and the WHO European region.
The intersectoral forum, organized in a mixed virtual format by the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan and 3-level WHO, including WHO country office, headquarters and Regional office for Europe and UNDP team, was attended by a wide range of representatives from government and non-government sectors, and the international community.
The mental health investment case report provides an assessment of the current mental health situation in the country, including challenges and opportunities for the development of the mental health system, and also economic evidence of the attributable, avertable burden associated with a number of leading mental, neurological and substance use conditions – psychosis, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, epilepsy and alcohol use disorders.
The report quantifies the costs of mental health conditions to the health sector and the benefits of scaled-up action to the economy at large. It also includes a return on investment (ROI) analysis that compares the costs of mental health conditions in the country with the estimated health and economic returns that implementing a package of cost-effective interventions would have until 2030.
Mental health conditions take significant tolls on the economy and social and sustainable development in Uzbekistan every year. In addition to the health and social impact of these conditions, the investment case model estimates that they caused 4.8 trillion soums (US$ 495 million) in total economic losses for Uzbekistan in 2019. The Government of Uzbekistan has set protection and enhancement of the population’s mental health as one of the most important objectives of the national health policy.
In the opening remarks, Mr Inoyatov, 1st Deputy Minister of Health, expressed a gratitude to the WHO and UNDP team and the Ministry of Health of Russia and Ambassador of Russia in Uzbekistan for their support in financing the development of such an important study for the country.
The study and report development became possible with the support of the UN interagency task force (UNIATF) for NCD prevention and control and the generous funding from the government of the Russian Federation.
Dr Hans Kluge, a Regional Director of WHO/Europe and Svetlana Akselrod from WHO HQ, in their opening remarks highlighted the importance of setting Mental Health aspects in the government agenda in Uzbekistan and the intersectionality of the issue. They also congratulated Uzbekistan to become a pioneer as the first country to publish this report in the WHO European region, encouraging using the study’s findings in future intersectoral policy development and health reform implementation. Hans Kluge also informed the participants that Mental Health is the Flagship priority programme for WHO, and future support to this will be provided from the WHO/Europe.
Dr. Lianne Kuppens, WHO Representative and Head of Country Office, highlighted, "As the country continues to reform its health system towards universal health coverage, the government of Uzbekistan embarked on the current effort to construct an investment case for the mental health system and service development. This comes on the back of the earlier NCD investment case for Uzbekistan in 2017, which provided new context-specific information on the expected benefits of scaled-up delivery of NCD prevention and control efforts."
During the panel discussion, the representatives of the Government of Uzbekistan, Ministries of health, finance, and education, reflected on the study’s findings and confirmed their readiness to support the use of the report’s recommendations.
The study highlights four key recommendations that Uzbekistan can translate into policy and practice to scale up mental health investment:
1. Increase the capacity of the healthcare workforce and system to provide mental health interventions, including integrating mental health into primary health care (PHC) and strengthening community service provision;
2. Leverage health financing and delivery reforms to extend the coverage of mental health conditions, medicines and services by publicly funded health insurance or benefit packages as part of the broader move towards universal health coverage;
3. Invest in the evidence-based, cost-effective clinical and population-based mental health interventions modelled in the economic analysis;
4. Establish and strengthen monitoring and surveillance systems to estimate the prevalence of mental health conditions and track patient outcomes.
NGOs and the international community in Uzbekistan led by Mr Yu Yu, a.i. UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Matilda Dimovska also shared their perspective of the future support in strengthening the mental health area in Uzbekistan.
The findings of the investment case demonstrate that investing in evidence-based, cost-effective mental health interventions would, over the period until 2030, save more than 2,600 lives and provide economic benefits. Strengthening policy and increasing interest in mental health is a primary goal for public health and sustainable development and can help Uzbekistan reduce the burden of mental health conditions.