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Health ministers to focus on mental health inclusion

5 June 2013
Commonwealth health ministers will meet in Geneva, Switzerland on 19 May 2013. A main item on the agenda will be to look at ways of ensuring the economic and social inclusion of people with mental health challenges.

The meeting will explore technical and policy options available to Commonwealth countries under the theme ‘Mental Health: Towards Economic and Social Inclusion’. Discussions will focus on stigma and care and the importance of meaningful participation within socio-cultural and economic activities.

Professor Chee Ng, Director of the University of Melbourne’s International Psychiatry Unit, will provide an overview of the theme.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “Where effective and affordable interventions are available, people with mental health conditions are still being excluded and stigmatised. They have been largely excluded from the development agenda in general, which in turn impedes the achievement of national and international development goals.”

The Secretary-General added that there is a great deal to be learned from experience gained in tackling communicable diseases – particularly HIV/AIDS – in terms of stigma and inclusion.

Commonwealth health ministers will also review the progress made in achieving global goals for health and recommend strategies to inform the post-2015 development agenda, to tackle the issues faced by Commonwealth countries individually and collectively.