By Rashaed Esson
June 18, 2023 – As mental health continue to experience an elevated profile as a global health priority, PAHO reports, “A New Agenda for Mental Health in the Region of the Americas,” was launched on June 9th, 2023, and it highlights recommendations to better address mental health in the Americas following the COVID-19 pandemic which has worsened mental health issues.
The report comes following the establishment of the High-Level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19, in May of 2022, which comprised 17 experts from Government, civil society, academia as well as those with lived experience of mental health conditions.
Their job was to give guidance to PAHO and its Member States on how to advance mental health in the Region during and after the pandemic.
The report provides countries with ten recommendations to improve mental health care and they are:
- Elevate mental health at the national and supranational levels.
- Integrate mental health into all policies.
- Increase the quantity and improve the quality of financing for mental health.
- Ensure the human rights of people living with mental health conditions.
- Promote and protect mental health across the life course.
- Improve and expand community-based mental health services and care.
- Strengthen suicide prevention.
- Adopt a gender transformative approach to mental health.
- Address racism and racial discrimination as a key determinant of mental health.
- Improve mental health data and research.
In light of this, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa Director of the PAN American Health Organization (PAHO) called leaders and decision makers to take action, making sure mental health is placed at the top of political agendas and woven into all sectors and policies to better address the growing issue especially after the pandemic.
PAHO expressed that even though mental health has historically been a significant source of disability and mortality in the Americas, responsible for almost one-third of all years lived with a disability, the pandemic increased the risk factors including, grief and loss, unemployment and financial insecurity, and this was emphasized by Barbosa speaking at the launch. He maintained that COVID-19 severely impacted the mental health of the population of the Americas; hence the importance of the recommendations in the report.
In addition to the increase in mental health issues, the preponderance of those with a condition do not receive the necessary care whether that be therapy or medication.
PAHO reports that in 2020 more than 80 percent of those with a severe mental health condition, psychosis included, did not receive treatment.
This partly due to a lack of access to services to help with mental health and Barbosa expressed this is due to a variety of factors before the pandemic including: “low investment, only 3% of countries’ health budgets are allocated to mental health; a reliance on long-stay hospitalization when the majority of mental health problems can be resolved in the community; a chronic shortage of trained mental health personnel; and reduced access to services for those living in vulnerable situations.”
Considering the report as well as the facts highlighted, investing in mental health is key to bring about the best result in mitigating its impact on people of the Americas, and Dr. Epsy Campbell Barr, Chair of the Commission and former Vice-President of Costa Rica, spoke to this saying, “Investing in mental health is crucial to promote equitable and sustainable human development for all to live with well-being and dignity,” further fingering that mental health is a public issue, not private, which requires urgent and immediate attention.
In continuation, Dr. Nestor Mendez, Co-Chair of the Commission and Assistant Director General of the Organization of American States, expressed that mental health is now in their hands, that is the leaders in the region, to change how they approach handling it.
PAHO made reference to mental health statistics throughout the Americas, further highlighting the importance of addressing it in the best way possible.
Some of the statistics say:
- In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, major depressive disorders increased by 35 percent and anxiety disorders by 32 percent .
- 65 percent of countries reported disruptions to essential mental health and substance use services in 2020. This number has decreased to 14 percent in early 2023.
- 8 our of 10 individuals with a severe mental health condition do not receive treatment
- Suicide claims the lives of nearly 100,000 people each year.
- The regional age-adjusted suicide rate increased by 17 percent between 2000 – 2019.
- Depressive and anxiety disorders are the third and fourth leading causes of disability.
Mental health should not be taken lightly and should be treated like any other illness as it is in fact an illness and is just as dangerous as visually physically conditions.
Trinidad Makes Big Energy Commitment
#TrinidadandTobago#Energy, February 20th, 2024 – To diversify its energy mix as well as its economy, Trinidad and Tobago is putting focus on energy transition for development, working on a solar project which will potentially change energy production for the nation.
This was announced by Prime Minister Keith Rowley at the opening of the Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo 2024 in Guyana on February 19th.
Expressing that energy is the center of economic development, Rowley highlights why this development is significant. He says in order to transform the energy system to cater to the growing demand for energy while decreasing global emissions, a broad mix of energy is needed.
He further mentions that this is what’s required of producer economies like Trinidad and Tobago for development.
Irish Humanitarian Organization in Haiti – Address Hunger Crisis and More
#Haiti#Crisis#ConcernWorldwide, February 2oth, 2024 – Seeing that Haiti’s humanitarian crisis worsens day by day with too many Haitians, hundreds of thousands, edging the line to severe deprivation of food, Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide is addressing major food insecurity.
The organization in a release said “ “We are providing food assistance, via electronic vouchers to help families purchase food from local vendors so that they can feed their families and prevent malnutrition in children as the situation worsens.”
They are also working to provide Haitians with clean water and sanitation as the waterborne disease Cholera continues to threaten lives, killing more than 1,150 people in 2023.
And, they provide referrals for cases of sexual and gender based violence in Port au Prince.
Concern is supported by funding from USAID, receiving €2.1 million (euros) to help over 30 thousand people in the hunger crisis as well as €1 million (euros) yearly from the Irish Government for its work in Haiti.
Why the Haitian President’s Wife – Martine Moïse – was charged with his 2021 Assassination
#Haiti, February 21, 2024 – Martine Moïse, the widow of Haiti’s assassinated President Jovenel Moïse, is being charged for involvement in his July 2021 murder, according to recent reports on Monday February 19th, 2024.
In his report, Haitian Judge Walther Wesser Voltaire reveals there were questionable actions related to Martine Moïse as well as statements that simply didn’t add up.
For instance, Voltaire states that she mentions hiding under the marital bed for safety during the attack on her husband, but authorities expressed that this claim is illogical, saying that a giant rat measuring “between 35 and 45 centimeters,” could not fit under the bed.
This is due to the fact that the gap between the bed and the floor was 14 to 18 inches, according to the indictment.
Considering these revelations, Voltaire states that her claims were “so tainted with contradictions that they leave something to be desired and discredit her.”
There are other suspicious actions by Mrs. Moïse, reported by the Judge, as revealed by Lyonel Valbrun, former Secretary General of the National Palace.
Voltiare’s report says Valbrun claimed there was pressure from the late President’s wife to make available to Claude Joseph, former Prime Minister, office space for the organization of a Council of Ministers. Additionally, Valbrun reported that Martine Moïse dedicated hours to remove objects from the Palace during the days leading up to her husband’s murder.
The accusations against Mrs. Moïse, reports say, are also based on information from Joseph Badio, former official in Haiti’s Justice Ministry, who is accused of being involved in planning the Haitian president’s 2021 assassination.
According to the indictment, linked in Voltaire’s 122 page report highlights Badio “outing” Mrs. Moïse for plotting with others, Joseph included, to kill her husband to gain power.
Joining Joseph and Moïse with charges is Léon Charles, ex-chief of Haiti’s National Police, carrying the worst of the charges including, murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of weapons, conspiracy against the state’s internal security, and involvement in criminal associations.
Haitian-American pastor Christian Emmanuel Sanon, former DEA informant Joseph Vincent, presidential security chief Dimitri Hérard, former senator John Joël Joseph, and judge Windelle Coq, are also among the accused, some already sentenced and some handed over to the US to face Federal charges.
Media reports have exposed that after a two and a half year investigation, there are still unanswered questions. And, despite going into details about the assassination, it fails to reveal the motive behind it and how it was financed.
A separate case on Moise’s killing is being tried in Miami.
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