By: Farooq Ahmad
Pakistan’s First All Parliamentary Mental Health Summit was held on 12th March 2020 at Pakistan institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) Islamabad. The inaugural session was hosted by President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, at the President House Islamabad. It was the first ever such initiative in Pakistan; It was agreed that in the 18 months followed by the summit, all the key stakeholders will collaborate to develop this strategy and its implementation plan. This in turn will help in moving towards achieving the SDGs 2015-2030 target.
Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan, highlighted the hydra of mental health issues facing Pakistan and the near-impossible task of pinpointing its causes.
The second round of All Parliamentary Mental Health Summit was held in Jan 2021 through Zoom, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Five subsequent sessions i.e. Preconception, Pregnancy and Mental Health, Postnatal Mental health and Early Childhood, Health and Well-being of Children and Early Adolescents, Health and Well-being of Young People, Working Adults and Health and Well-being of Older Adults were held.
Riaz Fatyana, member of the parliament and chair of the National parliament task force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also attended these sessions and appreciated Prof. Nasim Chaudhry, Prof Nusrat Husain, Prof. Imran Bashir Chaudhry, and Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning for successfully organizing All Parliamentary Mental Health Summit initially, and then the second round consequently.
The sessions were attended by mental health professionals, policy maker, lawyers, youth representatives, and young researchers from UK, USA, Canada, and all provinces of Pakistan. Different stakeholders also participated, appreciated and assured their support. Prof Nasim Chaudhry thanked all the participants for this input and time, and stated that by March-April 2021 we will be meeting again with more progress and will be able to present our final findings from each working group while the final work, suggestions and recommendations will be presented to the honorable President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi in October 2021.
Prof. Nusrat Husain concluded that thirteen out of the seventeen SDGs are linked with mental health, by improving mental health we will be able to achieve Pakistan 2015-2030 SDGs target. But as we know that the goal number 17 is partnership and collaborations, Pakistan institute of living and learning has come forward and taking a huge responsibility which is not possible without the collaborative work with all the relevant departments. He said we shall work together to improve health and well-being of people in Pakistan.