In an effort to make progress towards better health outcomes for women living in the developing world, at Grand Challenges Canada we aim to tackle the barriers in women’s health through our three targeted challenges: Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health. As part of the Women Deliver 2013, I wanted to take the chance to highlight each of these programs and how they aim to support women’s health globally.
Global Mental Health
Often visible in early adolescence, common mental disorders are becoming widespread in our world and now account for 13% of the global disease burden. Of the disability experienced by neuropsychiatric disorders, depression account for close to 41.9% of disability in women relative to 29.3% of disability in men. And women who are exposed to intimate partner violence in their adult life are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience depression relative to those who do not.
Despite this growing need for mental health care and prevention efforts, we don’t have the infrastructure to support it. In many parts of the world, a handful of mental health professional are available to work with tens of thousands of people, often more.
To address this, our Global Mental Health program, the chief initiative under our non-communicable disease program at Grand Challenges Canada, aims to improve access to prevention and treatment approaches for improved mental health in the developing world.
The prevalence of perinatal depression is staggering: 20%-30% of women in low income countries are affected. With the support from our Global Mental Health Program, a team at the University of Ibadan is seeking to expand care for perinatal women with depression in Nigeria. The team will test the impact of an intervention package for perinatal depression, delivered by community midwives, on alleviating maternal depression and preventing its negative consequences on infant growth and development.
Together, these three targeted challenges, Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains, and Global Mental Health take a life-cycle approach to women’s health, focusing on some of the most neglected and substantive challenges to ensuring that girls and women around the world are set on the path to reach their full potential in life, from start to finish.