"Mental health leaders for the next generation": AMARI 2019 ASM
The African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI) Consortium held its 3rd Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from the 20th – 21st March 2019. The conference was held under the theme ‘Mental health leaders for the next generation’ and was officially opened by Ethiopia State Minister of Health, Dr Liya Tadesse.
At least 120 global health and mental health researchers, policy makers and representatives from mental health service user groups attended the two day conference. The delegates included researchers from countries that include; Ethiopia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The diverseness of the audience supported part of AMARI’s key objectives, vis-à-vis to promote Scientific Citizenship and Scientific Quality.
In her official remarks, Dr Tadesse urged AMARI fellows to work closely with policy makers, “Increase awareness of evidence, buy-in from policy makers and embed research into policy making,” she said.
The conference put major focus on the fellows hence all the AMARI doctoral and post-doctoral fellows presented their research protocols and results and received high level feedback. Several plenary sessions, keynote speeches by distinguished global mental health researchers and the voice of service users added to the richness of the two day conference programme.
DELTAS Africa Programme Manager, Dr Alphonse Neba commended the quality of mental health research being done by AMARI. He said, “Rewarding and fulfilling to note the quality of mental and neurological health research and presentations by AMARI fellows. A new generation of globally-competitive African mental health research leaders is unloading.”
AMARI Cohort 2 doctoral fellow from Zimbabwe, Jermaine Dambi noted that the ASM provided the fellows an invaluable platform for networking with experts in global mental health. “The annual scientific meeting offered us early-career researchers priceless networking opportunities with seasoned leaders in global mental health”, said Dambi.
Natasha Chilambo an MSc in Leadership and Development scholar affiliated with the African Leadership Centre, School of Global Affairs at King’s College London found the ASM valuable and inspiring. She said; “As a medical student interested in a career in psychiatry, and currently undertaking an MSc in Leadership & Development, it seemed that ASM 3 was tailor-made to suit my interests. The conference had an urgency to it: a collective question seeking to uncover the ways in which the research being undertaken by the fellows can be translated back into communities. Professor ‘Funmi Olonisakin aptly captured this sentiment in saying that ‘research for the sake of research is interesting, but in Africa research must be connected to solving a problem.’
I am pleased and left inspired that various presentations, and the conversations I had with the fellows, delegates and the DELTAS Program Manager contained this thirst to discover and master how the research being carried out can be married to policy across the continent in order that mental health is prioritized.”
One of the major highlights of the conference was the first screening of AMARI’s ARTICULATE documentary, a mental health film that captured various works of selected AMARI fellows in their engagements with communities as part of their research in efforts to tell the African mental health story as part of efforts to have mental health prioritized by African Governments.