April 2, 2019
The Gairdner Foundation today announced the 2019 Canada Gairdner Award laureates, recognising Goa and Boston-based Vikram Patel, Ph.D., F. Med.Sci., for his research career raising the global profile of mental health problems. Prof Patel has been awarded the 2019 John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for his world-leading research in global mental health, generating knowledge on the burden and determinants of mental health problems in low-and middle-income countries and pioneering approaches for the prevention and treatment of mental health in low-resource settings.
Each year seven Canada Gairdner Awards are presented to honour the world’s most significant biomedical and global health researchers. The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award recognizes a contribution to health in the developing world. Laureates receive a $100,000 cash honorarium and will be formally presented with their awards on October 24, 2019 at the annual Canada Gairdner Awards Gala in Toronto.
Prof. Vikram Patel
“This prize is a recognition of the tremendous effort of innovators in low resource settings to transform our understanding of mental health problems and to innovate ways in which we can address these problems in contexts where there are very few resources,” said Prof. Vikram Patel.
Prof. Patel is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Professor, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health; Honorary Professor of Global Mental Health, Centre for Global Mental Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Adjunct Professor, Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi; Co-founder, Sangath, India
Prof. Patel has dedicated his research career to raising the global profile of mental health problems through: epidemiological research demonstrating the burden of mental disorders in low and middle-income countries, their strong association with poverty and with other public health priorities, such as HIV and child growth and development; and intervention research in which he has applied a systematic approach to the design, delivery and evaluation of contextually appropriate psychosocial interventions provided by lay and community health providers. This has included the primary care treatment of depression, anxiety and alcohol use disorders, the community-based care of people with schizophrenia and autism, and the prevention and treatment of adolescent mental health problems through school-based interventions.
Much of his work has been done in partnership with Sangath, an Indian NGO he Co-founded in 1996. Sangath is one of India’s leading community-based research organizations which won the MacArthur Foundation International Prize for Creative & Effective Institutions in 2008 and the WHO Public Health Champion of India prize in 2016. Sangath is a pioneer in training lay people to deliver healthcare treatments and interventions to their communities and works closely with Dr. Patel’s academic institutions. Dr. Patel also Co-founded the Centre for Global Mental Health and the Mental Health Innovations Network (at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) and the Movement for Global Mental Health, the largest global network of individuals and organizations advocating for promoting services and human rights for people living with mental health problems. In 2018, he Co-founded the [email protected] initiative which is developing a suite of innovative, inter-disciplinary, initiatives aimed at implementing and generating knowledge to transform mental health globally.
The Impact: As recently as 10 years ago, it was difficult to even imagine mental health problems being considered as a global health priority; today, the situation is radically different with considerable attention from a diverse range of global health stakeholders, backed by resources, being focused on mental health, particularly in disadvantaged and low resourced contexts. Patel’s work and leadership has played a critical role in making this happen. His research has challenged many of the myths surrounding mental health problems in the global context, demonstrating that these problems are universal forms of human suffering; that there is a vicious cycle of deprivation and poor mental health; that mental health problems profoundly affect the physical health and well-being of affected persons; that psychosocial interventions can be effectively delivered by widely available and affordable community based providers; and that the human rights of people with mental health problems to access quality care and to a life with dignity are global concerns. This work and his leadership has made significant contributions to the establishment of the field of global mental health, with priority research, teaching, policy and practice agendas, for example the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health research initiative, the World Health Organization’s flagship mhGAP program on mental health and India’s first national mental health policy.
Sangath, established in 1997 (www.sangath.in); is now one of India’s leading community based health research NGOs whose work has been cited as having led to "innovative research of relevance to public health in developing countries” and as one of the leading examples of academic psychiatry in the global context. Sangath was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation International Prize for Creative & Effective Institutions in 2008 and the WHO Public Health Champion of India award in 2016. Starting out 20 years ago as Goa’s first multi-disciplinary child development clinic, Sangath has now conducting work across India with a view to developing packages of care for community delivery for a range of mental health conditions. It has been the state nodal agency for the Government of India’s national health program, the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities.
About the Canada Gairdner Awards
Each year seven Canada Gairdner Awards are presented to honour the world’s most significant biomedical and global health researchers. The Canada Gairdner International Award is given to five individuals for outstanding international biomedical research, while the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award is given to an individual leader in Canadian medicine. The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award recognizes a contribution to health in the developing world. These seven awards both distinguish Canada as a leader in science and elevate the profile of science in Canada. They are Canada’s only globally known and respected international science awards. All laureates are chosen by international adjudication committees.
Picture courtesy: Kent Dayton, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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