American University of Beirut
The faculty of medicine at the American University of Beirut announced the establishment of the “Arab Regional Center for Research and Training in Mental Health”. The faculty explained in an announcement that the Center, which will stimulate research, training, capacity building and policy making in mental health in the Arab world, and will be “a meeting point for mental health researchers in the region, stimulating collaborations between them and disseminating the results of their work to others in the region. The Center will be located within the Department of Psychiatry at the Faculty Medicine.
The announcement quoted the director of the center, Dr. Brigitte Khoury, saying that “the initial task of the center is to collaborate with the World Health Organization - Geneva (WHO in its revision of mental and behavioural disorders chapter of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).” The Center will serve as one of nine International Field Study Centers for the ICD revision.
WHO has established other Centers in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, and USA. The Center's specific role in the ICD revision will be to recommend specific changes to the mental disorders classification so the definitions, descriptions, and diagnostic guidelines are more accurate for the Arab region and that relevant cultural issues are considered. This will improve the usefulness of the classification for Arab mental health professionals. WHO believes that a more useful classification will help health professionals more effectively and efficiently identify people who need mental health services and the kinds of services they need. “The intention is ultimately to help reduce the disease burden of mental disorders in the region” said Khoury, pointing out that the neuropsychiatric disorders account for a higher percentage of global disease burden than any other category of non-communicable disease. “And they are vastly undertreated-- even more so in the Arab region-- even though effective treatments exist.” WHO expects to publish the ICD-11 in 2014.
But the Center's mission will be much broader than just working with WHO on the ICD revision. The announcement also mentioned that “the center will help in gathering mental health knowledge that is culturally relevant to the region and its population and disseminating it to professionals across the world. It will also serve as a database for researchers and as a network of professionals with similar interests who will be able to meet and share their expertise and knowledge. It will also help students and young professionals in mental health network with regional researchers and develop their careers”. In addition, the center will also serve as “a capacity building center for researchers in mental health, with a focus on training professionals in conducting ethical research, protecting human subjects, and establishing IRB reviews in their respective universities”.
The Center will be officially launched with an opening ceremony on the morning of the 20th of June, under the patronage of the Lebanese Minister of Health. This will be followed by a 2-day regional meeting focusing on the ICD revision, in collaboration with WHO. 'Experts from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, morocco, Palestine, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are attending the initial meeting and will collaborate with the Center'.