Global Fund Must Integrate Mental Health Into Its TB, HIV Strategies, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: Why mental health integration in HIV and TB programs is a win-win
Ren Minghui, assistant director general for universal health coverage/communicable and noncommunicable diseases at the WHO and WHO representative on the boards of the Global Fund, UNAIDS, and UNITAID; and Shannon Hader, deputy executive director of programs at UNAIDS and assistant secretary general of the United Nations

“Lack of mental health and psychosocial support for people living with, or at risk of, HIV and tuberculosis poses huge barriers to their health and well-being, as well as ending these epidemics. This week, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria meets to discuss the fund’s strategy for the years to come. This is a unique opportunity to ensure that mental health — a missing piece in current strategies — becomes an integral part of the global responses to HIV and TB — from prevention, to testing, to treatment and care, and addressing stigma related to mental health, HIV, and TB. … HIV, TB, and mental health are interrelated. Two decades of evidence shows that poor mental health is a risk factor for HIV and TB infections. Additionally, having HIV and/or TB is associated with developing mental health conditions. … It is therefore crucial that the Global Fund explicitly defines in its new strategy the importance of addressing mental health, and recommends specific types of mental health services and activities that countries could request funding for in support of ending their AIDS and TB epidemics. The Global Fund has the opportunity to be a trailblazer by fully integrating mental health services throughout its programs. This will not only greatly strengthen systems for health, including community responses, but it will also, most importantly, bring better health and quality of life to countless people across the globe” (11/11).

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