Human resource challenges facing Zambia’s mental health care system and possible solutions: Results from a combined quantitative and qualitative study

Abstract

Human resources for mental health care in low- and middle-income countries are inadequate to meet the growing public health burden of neuropsychiatric disorders. Information on actual numbers is scarce, however. The aim of this study was to analyse the key human resource constraints and challenges facing Zambia's mental health care system, and the possible solutions. This study used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The WHO-AIMS Version 2.2 was utilized to ascertain actual figures on human resource availability. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were conducted to assess key stakeholders’ perceptions regarding the human resource constraints and challenges. The results revealed an extreme scarcity of human resources dedicated to mental health in Zambia. Respondents highlighted many human resource constraints, including shortages, lack of post-graduate and in-service training, and staff mismanagement. A number of reasons for and consequences of these problems were highlighted. Dedicating more resources to mental health, increasing the output of qualified mental health care professionals, stepping up in-service training, and increasing political will from government were amongst the key solutions highlighted by the respondents. There is an urgent need to scale up human and financial resources for mental health in Zambia.

Citation

International Review of Psychiatry (2010) 22 (6) 550-557 [doi:10.3109/09540261.2010.536148]

Human resource challenges facing Zambia’s mental health care system and possible solutions: Results from a combined quantitative and qualitative study

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