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WHO report highlights global shortfall in investment in mental health – World Health Organization

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The World Health Organization’s new Mental Health Atlas paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting a growing need for mental health support.

The latest edition of the Atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, provides a clear indication that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that is aligned with needs. 

Issued every three years, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around the world on mental health policies, legislation, financing, human resources, availability and utilization of services and data collection systems. It is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards meeting the targets in WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.

“It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health.”

Lack of progress in leadership, governance and financing

None of the targets for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in community-based settings, mental health promotion and prevention, and strengthening of information systems, were close to being achieved.

In 2020, just 51% of WHO’s 194 Member States reported that their mental health policy or plan was in line with international and regional human rights instruments, way short of the 80% target. And only 52% of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, also well below the 80% target. The only 2020 target met was a reduction in the rate of suicide by 10%, but even then, only 35 countries said they had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan.

Steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators. However, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around 2%. Moreover, even when policies and plans included estimates of required human and financial resources, just 39% of responding countries indicated that the necessary human resources had been allocated and 34% that the required financial resources had been provided.

Transfer of care to the community is slow

While the systematic decentralization of mental health care to community settings has long been recommended by WHO, only 25% of responding countries met all the criteria for integration of mental health into primary care. While progress has been made in training and supervision in most countries, the supply of medicines for mental health conditions and psychosocial care in primary health-care services remains limited.

This is also reflected in the way that government funds to mental health are allocated, highlighting the urgent need for deinstitutionalization. More than 70% of total government expenditure on mental health was allocated to mental hospitals in middle-income countries, compared with 35% in high-income countries. This indicates that centralized mental hospitals and institutional inpatient care still receive more funds than services provided in general hospitals and primary health-care centres in many countries. 

There was, however, an increase in the percentage of countries reporting that treatment of people with specific mental health conditions (psychosis, bipolar disorder and depression) is included in national health insurance or reimbursement schemes – from 73% in 2017 to 80% (or 55% of Member States) in 2020.

Global estimates of people receiving care for specific mental health conditions (used as a proxy for mental health care as a whole) remained less than 50%, with a global median of 40% of people with depression and just 29% of people with psychosis receiving care.

Increase in mental health promotion, but effectiveness questionable

More encouraging was the increase in countries reporting mental health promotion and prevention programmes, from 41% of Member States in 2014 to 52% in 2020. However, 31% of total reported programmes did not have dedicated human and financial resources, 27% did not have a defined plan, and 39% had no documented evidence of progress and/or impact.

Slight increase in the mental health workforce

The global median number of mental health workers per 100 000 population has increased slightly from nine workers in 2014 to 13 workers per 100 000 population in 2020. However, there was a very high variation between countries of different income levels, with the number of mental health workers in high-income countries more than 40 times higher than in low-income countries.

New targets for 2030

The global targets reported on in the Mental Health Atlas are from WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan, which contained targets for 2020 endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2013. This Plan has now been extended to 2030 and includes new targets for the inclusion of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency preparedness plans, the integration of mental health into primary health care, and research on mental health.

“The new data from the Mental Health Atlas shows us that we still have a very long way to go in making sure that everyone, everywhere, has access to quality mental health care,” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO. “But I am encouraged by the renewed vigour that we saw from governments as the new targets for 2030 were discussed and agreed and am confident that together we can do what is necessary to move from baby steps to giant leaps forward in the next 10 years.”

Note for editors:

The Atlas is being released in the lead-up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, for which the focus this year is scaling up access to quality mental health care.

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Investment firm head joins Algoma Steel's board – Sault Star

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The president and chief executive officer of a New York-based investment firm is a new Algoma Steel board member.

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Eric Rosenfeld founded Crescendo Partners in 1998.

He is a master of business administration graduate from Harvard University. Rosenfeld also serves on the boards of Primo Water Corp., CPI Aerostructures, Aecon Group and Pangaea Logistics Solutions, a release says.

He has served on boards since 1998. His first directorship was with Spar Aerospace, the company that developed the Canadarm used in space flights. Rosenfeld also served on the board of beverage maker Cott Corp.

He headed the arbitrage department of Oppenheimer & Co., an investment and brokerage bank, for 14 years before establishing Crescendo Partners.

Mary Anne Bueschkens, Gale Rubenstein, James Gouin, David Sgro, Brian Pratt and Rosenfeld join chair Andrew Harshaw, Andrew Schultz and Michael McQuade, a release says.

Our new board members bring critical expertise and diversity to the team,” said McQuade.

The other new members have backgrounds in the automotive, legal and construction sectors.

Bueschkens is a lawyer who has held various roles, including president and CEO of ABC Technologies, an automotive parts supplier.

Rubenstein is a partner in the Toronto-based law firm Goodmans LLP. She is counsel in the firm’s corporate restructuring group.

Gouin is a former head of Tower International, a global manufacturer of automotive products. He also worked 28 years at Ford Motor Company. He held two vice-president roles with the automaker.

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Sgro is a senior managing director at Crescendo Partners. The firm’s services include consulting, mergers, acquisitions and capital raising support and private equity investment.

Pratt is a former chair and director of Primoris Services Corp., a parent company of construction and engineering firms. He was also president and chief executive officer and board chair of the Dallas-based Primoris, and its predecessor entity, ARB Inc., from 1983 to 2015. Pratt is a former chair of Legato Merger Corp.

All the board members are independent, except McQuade. He is ASI’s CEO.

The Sault Ste. Marie steelmaker started trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

– with files from Postmedia Network

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Micron Urges Government Investment with R&D Spend – The Next Platform

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Over the last twenty years, memory has risen from 10% of the semiconductor market to almost 30%, a trend that is expected to continue, propelled by compute at the edge all the way up to datacenter. To meet these demands, memory giant, Micron, has announced it will make $150 billion in internal investments, ranging from manufacturing and fab facilities to R&D to support new materials and memory technologies.

The nature of the announcement serves two purposes. The first is obvious, Micron is putting a stake in the ground around its bullish view for edge to datacenter growth and their role as a primary component maker. The second is only slightly less obvious: to compel the U.S. to match funds or continue new investment strategies to support U.S. fabs and semiconductor R&D.

While $150 billion is a sizable investment, the fab component of Micron’s plans will gobble up a significant fraction. While no fab is created equally, consider TSMC’s investments in new facilities, which are upwards of $9 billion. Such investments can take two to three years to yield but the time is certainly right. Gartner, for instance, estimates the costs for leading-edge semiconductor facilities to increase between 7-10%.

While DRAM and NAND are less expensive than leading edge technologies, Micron will need to choose carefully as it sets its plans in motion. Luckily, there is ample government support building in the U.S. for all homegrown semiconductor industry, although it is unclear how federal investments, including the $52 billion CHIPS Act, will augment Micron’s own ambitions.

Micron is seeking the attention of government with its broad R&D and manufacturing investment, pointing to the creation of “tens of thousands” of new jobs and “significant economic growth.” In a statement, Micron explained that memory manufacturing costs are 35-45% higher than in lower-end semiconductor markets, “making funding to support new semiconductor manufacturing capacity and a refundable investment tax credit critical to potential expansion of U.S. manufacturing as part of Micron’s targeted investment.”

“The growth of the data economy is driving increased customer demand for memory and storage,” said Executive Vice President of Global Operations Manish Bhatia. “Leading-edge memory manufacturing at scale requires production of advanced semiconductor technology that is pushing the laws of physics, and our markets demand cost-competitive operations. Sustained government support is essential for Micron to ensure a resilient supply chain and reinforce technology leadership for the long term.”

Micron CEO, Sanjay Mehrotra says the company will “look forward to working with governments around the world, including in the U.S. where CHIPS funding and the FABS Act would open the door to new industry investments, as we consider sites to support future expansion.” The subtext there is that the U.S. is only one country in the running, among others making investments.

Increasing government support will likely align with fabs and facilities but Micron says it’s working on next generation technologies set to keep pace with growing demand.

This is part of the company’s 2030-era plan for memory technology. Micron sees edge and cloud deployments expanding but also points to AI as the leading workload across deployment types. The company’s senior VP and GM for Compute and Networking, former Intel HPC lead, Raj Hazra, says that by 2025, 75% of all organizations will have moved beyond the AI experimentation stage into production.

To support this more practically, Micron has set forth some ambitious near-term targets, including reaching for 40% improvements in memory densities over existing DRAM, double SSD read throughput speeds over current 1TB SSDs, 15% power reductions over existing DRAM and 15% better performance for mixed workloads over existing NAND.

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Walmart allowing some shoppers to buy bitcoin at Coinstar kiosks

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Walmart Inc said on Thursday customers at some of its U.S. stores will be able to purchase bitcoin using ATM-like machines installed by  Coinstar.

Coinstar, known for its machines that can exchange physical coins for cash, has partnered with digital currency exchange CoinMe to let customers buy bitcoin at some of its kiosks.

There are 200 Coinstar kiosks located inside Walmart stores across the United States that will allow customers to buy bitcoin, a Walmart spokesperson said.

Walmart was subject to a cryptocurrency hoax in September when a fake press release was published announcing a partnership between the world’s largest retailer and litecoin. The news had briefly sent prices of the little known cryptocurrency surging.

 

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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