Government of Zambia calls for increased investment in mental health and integration of services in all primary health care facilities to mark the World Health Day 2017

Drama groups were instrumendal in passing messages on depression in the community Drama groups were instrumendal in passing messages on depression in the community

Lusaka, 13 April 2017 - The government of the Republic of Zambia has called for increased investment in mental health and the integration of services at primary health care facilities in response to the need for people with depression to seek and get help. Speaking at the official launch of the World Health Day 2017 which was commemorated under the theme “Depression, Let’s talk”, the District Commissioner for Ndola District, Mr. Conan Chisulo who was the Guest of Honour stated that many people were suffering from depression and yet limited resources were allocated  for interventions to address this salient potential killer.

Mr. Chisulo said that in 2016, a total of 19,733 new mental health patients were seen at mental health institutions across the country, out of which eight percent (8%) were treated for depression. He pointed out that this was a tip of the iceberg as most depressed people were easily missed during routine visits at the health facilities and in the community. He emphasized the need to integrate mental health in all primary health facilities so that patients could be attended at lower levels and not just at the bigger institutions. He called for improvement of physical infrastructures, particularly the completion of the Ndola and Solwezi Mental Health Units; improvement of human resources; strengthening research capacity; improved provision of drug and non-drug therapies in the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses including advocacy for mental health in work places. The District Commissioner said that government was training psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psycho-social counsellors and social workers and the first five psychiatrists had been deployed to the provincial hospitals. He commended WHO and the Global Fund for the financial and technical support given during the preparation and the commemoration of the WHD.

The WHO Representative, Dr. Jacob Mufunda read the statement of the WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti to mark the World Health Day. In her statement, the Regional Director said that about 322 million people around the world were affected by depression and that 30 million were in the African Region. She said that lack of availability of psychotropic medicines, proper information with well-structured psychotherapy and other effective measures for primary healthcare services to treat depression was a cause for concern. Dr. Moeti called upon countries to support mental health programmes by allocating adequate human and financial resources to respond to this growing burden and to follow the guidance provided by WHO through the Mental Health Global Action Programme and Intervention Guide and the Global Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020). 

The highlight of the commemoration was a testimony given by an ex-Pastor who lost his job, family and home due to depression. He testified how he did not even realise that he was depressed, but gradually isolated himself from his family and friends and ended up losing his wife, sold their home and he squandered his money from the sales by irrational decisions made as a result of depression. The support of his family eventually led him to seek counselling and treatment for his condition. He is on his way to recovery with the dose of his medicine being decreased. He encouraged people who are depressed to learn to talk about their condition and seek counsel and professional help early as the depression came with thoughts of suicide.

The community needs to be educated on the fact that depression is like any other illness that could affect anyone irrespective of the age or background and as such those who have suffered from it should not be stigmatized, but should be fully supported and be fully integrated back into the community as part of their management.

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For more information, please contact:

Dr. Mary Katepa Bwalya, Child and Adolescent Health Officer, WHO

Tel: 255322 /255336, 255398,

E-mail : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nora Mweemba, Health Information and Promotion Officer, WHO

Tel: 255322 /255336, 255398,

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Below :

01. Drama groups were instrumendal in passing messages on depression in the community

02. The District Commissioner for Ndola District, Mr. Conan Chisulo officially launching the World Heath Day with the WHO Representative, Dr. Jacob Mufunda and Dr. Caroline Phiri, Director, Public Health at MOH

03. WHO Staff were part of the commemorative activities in Ndola

Zambia