WHO collaboration to focus on mental health in Australia and the region

5 December 2019, Melbourne:

Australia’s first meeting of its World Health Organization’s (WHO) Collaborating Centers (WHOCC) will bring together 65 experts from across Australia to tackle and respond to a range of issues including the preliminary findings of Victoria’s Mental Health Royal Commission.

Australia has the highest number of World Health Organization centers – per capita – in the world. Currently there are 800 WHOCCs in over 80 member countries, who support the World Health Organization’s agenda.  

Following the Royal Commission into Mental Health’s landmark 600-page interim report, Australian experts will suggest ways in which international best practice can be used to inform the best possible response to the recommendation to establish a Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing. They will be joined by senior global health experts from UN bodies.

The Global Health Alliance Australia – a peak body of 48 global health organisations, is the Networkfor the WHOCC in Australia. A number of the Alliance’s 48 member organisations host WHO centres unlocking collaboration and partnerships across traditionally siloed sectors.

Patron of the Alliance, the Hon John Brumby AO, said that across the 50 WHO centres in Australia, many of the staff have significant expertise in the factors which lead to mental illness, such as drug and alcohol dependence, as well as the mental illness being caused by the devastating drought affecting much of Australia and the broader impact of climate change.

“Nationally, the Government has a precision focus on mental health. The inaugural meeting of the WHO Collaborating Centres will bring together global health experts from around the country and will enable international best practice to inform Victoria’s mental health system.

“The interim report of the Royal Commission was clear: we need a new approach. The recent Productivity Commission draft report into mental health exposed just how much mental ill health and suicide cost the Australian economy each year – a staggering $180billion.

“Business as usual is not an option.

“By bringing leading experts together and ensuring mental health is on the WHO’s agenda, Australia is playing its part in addressing the mental health challenges of the 21st century.

“We live in a globalised world and we don’t live in isolation. Global health experts are renowned for working together when it comes to contagious diseases and epidemics. By placing mental health on the agenda we are demonstrating how critical it is for global forums to heed attention to this issue.

Global health experts will propose an international best practice response to the recommendation to establish a significant new facility in Victoria dedicated to Mental Health and Wellbeing research and  care – proposing the elements of what’s needed to ensure this facility is equally as stand-out as Victoria’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

MEDIA CONTACT

Misha Coleman
Executive Director, Global Health Alliance Australia
+61 428 399 739
ed@glham.org

Download this media release as a Word Document.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Forum is at the University of Melbourne, Sydney Myer Asia Building, 5-6 December.

About the Global Health Alliance Australia

The Global Health Alliance Australia, based in Melbourne, was established by global health leaders to coordinate and create partnerships between organisations that work towards achieving health equity. The Alliance currently has 48 member organisations and fosters partnerships between these members which include universities, medical research institutes, WHO Collaborating Centres and international non-government organisations (INGOs). Through partnerships and collaboration, our member organisations encourage and support health equity and health security in our region, utilising and promoting the institutional and disciplinary expertise of our members and sponsors.

About the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Collaborating Centers

WHOCCs are institutions (or subunits thereof) that have been designated by the Director-General to support the WHO as part of a global network. The designation is a recognition of the institution’s historical collaboration with the WHO and outlines a schedule for a future program of work.

The WHOCC mechanism is grounded in a win-win relationship. The WHO can access world class institutional capacity for support of its activities and avoid duplication of effort where in-country expertise already exists. Meanwhile, WHOCC host institutions enjoy increased visibility, recognition and the associated benefits at a national and international level.

As of October 2019, there were 50 WHOCCs in Australia, the fifth largest number of WHOCCs in any member state after China, US, India and the UK. These WHOCCs generate widespread positive impacts for health systems and outcomes by making significant contributions to WHO program activities in the region and globally.