Approximately 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder at any point in time. Mental disorders are a shattering experience for the individual and their family. Although treatments combining psychosocial interventions, medication and rehabilitation can be very effective, in low- and middle-income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders do not receive treatment.
In many countries, however, misunderstanding of the symptoms of mental disorders, combined with traditional beliefs, contribute to patients being stigmatized. The stigmatization of these diseases is an additional burden for patients to carry in LICs and LMICs, where overall access to treatment is already challenging because of a shortage of specialized healthcare professionals and limited financial resources.
Sanofi joined forces with the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) in 2008 to set up the Fight Against STigma (FAST) program. In partnership with local health authorities, experts, patient associations and NGOs, FAST aims to improve access to mental healthcare in low-and middle-income countries by training primary healthcare professionals and raising public awareness around mental disorders.
To date, we have raised awareness with 650,000 people, enabled 22,000 to be seen in consultation and trained 827 healthcare professionals across 7 countries.
Today, we are taking further steps to tackle the burden of mental disorders and help build crucial capacity to fight the stigmatization and ensure that mental well-being becomes a priority for healthy communities and healthy economies. In the next phase of the project, we are launching pilot programs in new countries, such as Myanmar, and working to scale projects up to a national level in countries where we are already established, such as Morocco, Armenia and Mauritania.
"Sanofi is strongly committed to improving access to quality care for patients suffering from mental disorders in developing countries. Our actions are also aimed at combating discrimination against these patients and ensuring they are integrated in the healthcare system."
Head, Access to Medicines Department, Sanofi
References: 1. WHO. Investing in mental health: is it worth it? 2011. 2. WHO. Media Centre, Mental Disorders, Fact Sheet N°396, April 2016. 3. Anderson G. F. et al. New England Journal of Medicine, 2007, 356: 209-211. 4. World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health. The global economic burden of noncommunicable disease. September 2011. 5. WHO.Media Centre, Epilepsy, Fact sheet n°999, February 2016.
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