At the beginning of the 21st century, the world’s population continues to be confronted with major social, economic, geopolitical and climatic changes. These changes constitute severe and prolonged stressors requiring a rapid and sustained effort to adapt, testing the mental health of the most vulnerable groups, exposing them to states of psychological distress and psychiatric decompensation.
The fight against stigma and exclusion, the promotion of human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations, children, women, the elderly, the mentally ill and minorities, are priorities of global policies at the start of the 21st century. In Africa, despite the efforts made to respect the fundamental rights of citizens, there is still a long way to go before achieving the expected objectives and reducing inequalities between the different groups of the population and improving their economic and medico-psychological conditions.
The African population is predominantly young, which means giving the mental health of children and adolescents priority in the health promotion programs in the various countries. This population deserves the greatest attention because of its vulnerability and its exposure to the risks of diseases and of social, economic and emotional precariousness. The addictive behaviors, the risks of delinquency and the violence suffered by this population are at the origin of severe psychological distress and the decompensation of the most severe psychiatric issues.
The climate change have caused drought and desertification in several and extensive regions around the world. This particularly worrying phenomenon in Africa drives entire populations to forced migration and exodus and exposes them to the risk of developing psychiatric disorders linked to insecurity, poverty, rejection, acculturation and stigma.
In addition to the natural disasters, there are also armed conflicts, which are frequent on our continent, giving rise to the appearance and/or aggravation of post-traumatic psychiatric disorders which require specific and often heavy and prolonged care.
The rapid development of new technologies has made it possible to have valuable diagnostic, therapeutic and neuropsychiatric research achievements. The use of these new technologies is widespread in developed countries, much less in developing countries. African countries are faced with the immense challenge of following this movement of development and of acquiring the means of modern psychiatry based on evidence and cutting-edge technologies on the one hand and of preserving their ethnic and cultural specificities from somewhere else. This challenge is all the more difficult to meet when the weight of traditions is great and the economic and scientific means are limited. The disparity between countries in the face of this problem implies different mental health promotion strategies from one country to another.
To discuss about all these subjects and others, the African Regional Congress of Psychiatry will be organized by the World Psychiatric Association in collaboration with the Tunisian Society of Psychiatry in Hammamet (Tunisia) on December 8, 9 and 10, 2022. We will have the opportunity to share the experiences of different countries in Africa and other countries of the world, in the field of mental health promotion and discuss ways of developing psychiatry in our respective countries and ways of collaboration and mutual aid in order to meet the challenges that we are encountering at the beginning of this century.
This continental-scale meeting is a valuable opportunity for participants from different regions to get to know each other, forge links and develop networks between the different institutions and teams.
The organizing committee of the congress invites you to make this meeting a historic moment marking the beginning of this century by the leap of cooperation, exchange and the hope of living in a better world, in which populations of different African countries can enjoy good mental health and a good quality of life.
Dr Afzal Javed
President of World Psychiatric Association (WPA)
Dr Wahid Melki
President of Tunisian Society of Psychiatry
Dr Amine Larnaout
WPA Northern Africa Zone Representative