Mini Review
Volume 12 Issue 9 - 2020
Bridging the Gap on Early Identification and Treatment of Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders in Sub-Saharan Africa
Justus Uchenna Onu1*, Sunday O Oriji1, Theclar Ogochukwu Iyidobi2, Francis C Chinawa3 and Jude U Ohaeri4
1Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria
2Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria
3Department of Psychology, Godfrey Okoye University, Thinkers Corner, Enugu, Nigeria
4Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu, Nigeria
*Corresponding Author: Justus Uchenna Onu, Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nnewi Campus, Anambra State, Nigeria.
Received: May 25, 2020; Published: September 30, 2020


Although communicable diseases remain a priority in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the demographic, epidemiologic, and nutritional transitions occurring in the region is expected to change the narrative to non-communicable diseases. Mental, neurological, and substance (MNS) use disorders contribute substantially to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) worldwide, with MNS accounting for about 350 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost per annum in Sub-Saharan Africa. This picture is made bleaker by the huge treatment gap in the Sub-region with over 90% of persons with MNS disorders lacking access to optimal health care services. The Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) was designed to bridge this gap in treatment. However, after over a decade it was first launched, access to optimal care for MNS disorders is still lacking in most SSA countries despite some positive efforts. The authors opine that bridging the treatment gap for MNS disorders will require the following: forging a common terminology for MNS disorders in the SSA countries for a comprehensive policy, integration of mental health services into existing health care services (e.g. primary health care, HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health care services), the use of mobile phone or other application-based technology and leveraging on the informal health care systems (e.g. traditional and faith-based healers) to deliver some level of care to persons with MNS disorders.

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); Mental, neurological, and substance (MNS); Global Burden of Disease (GBD); Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs); Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP)


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Citation: Justus Uchenna Onu., et al. “Bridging the Gap on Early Identification and Treatment of Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders in Sub-Saharan Africa”. EC Neurology 12.9 (2020): 11-16.

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