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Mental Health Research In Poor Countries Boosted

UN Agency And Medical Editors To Boost Mental Health Research In Poor Countries

With only 2 per cent of mental health studies in leading medical journals coming from the developing world, the United Nations health agency today announced a joint project with major journal editors to fill the shortfall through training and mentoring programmes for research from poorer nations.

“There is very limited research written from and about low- and middle-income countries and we need to change this trend," the World Health Organization ( http://www.who.int/mediacentre/notes/2004/np6/en/ WHO) Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Benedetto Saraceno, said. "Scientific journals can play a fundamental role in encouraging the production and dissemination of research findings. Mental health research in these countries is needed to better inform governments in planning the various aspects of care."

The Geneva-based WHO and 42 editors representing journals such as the British Journal of Psychiatry, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, British Medical Journal and The Lancet, have drawn up a catalogue of ideas to guide follow-up actions to support the publication of mental health research from developing countries.

Suggestions included improving submissions by researchers from developing countries to make their papers suitable for publication, as well as training in research methodology and scientific writing through mentoring, personal encouragement, training courses and collaboration.

Increased access to mental health research publications would, by itself, help in capacity-building. Online access can serve as a cost-effective technology, since little additional expenditure is required to provide access to new users apart from the initial costs of posting material on a web site.

“Journals have an important role to play in developing the research capacity of low- and middle-income countries, especially in a neglected area like mental health," Kamran Abbasi, Deputy Editor of the British Medical Journal, said. “There is also much that scientists and doctors from richer countries can learn from their counterparts in poorer countries - this is far from being a one-way process."

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