Q&A: Online training revives Somalia’s mental healthcare

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In countries affected by conflict and political volatility, mental health problems are often serious and complex but poorly supported by public health services. Take Somalia. Here trauma is common, and illnesses such as depression — often caused or exacerbated by poverty — are widespread after decades of civil war, instability and (more recently) terrorism. The WHO estimates that 1-in-3 Somalis have been affected by a mental illness at some point in their lives.

War and poverty have decimated the country’s health sector. Services and research in mental health fare even worse: Somalia has only a handful of trained psychiatrists.

In this interview, we speak to Djibril Handuleh, a Somali doctor and mental health researcher working in Somaliland, a self-declared state in northwest Somalia, and member of the King’s Centre for Global Health in the United Kingdom.

Handuleh is active in using information and communications technologies (ICTs) as a cheap, effective way of training health workers in an impoverished nation where medical infrastructure is weak and opportunities for postgraduate training almost non-existent. He explains how training programmes can use technology to draw on regional and global expertise and develop robust, evidence-based systems of care.
Read the full interview here: