Competing against 2 770 international entrants, the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has been honored with a World Bank Development Marketplace Award for 2003 for its mental health work in rural areas.
"Winning this prestigious award recognizes the work we are doing in South Africa. This will now us enable us to reach an additional one hundred thousand people in the Northern Cape and Northwest provinces with projects to address their very serious mental problems," said SADAG Founder , Zane Wilson who is currently in the USA at the World Bank competition.
South Africa has only 320 psychiatrists for 44 million people. and in the North Western province the problem is particularly acute with a population of 3.6 million supported by only 1 full time and 1 part time psychiatrist.
"It was a huge challenge for us to convince the two panels of judges of how critically important our work is for mental health patients at this time in South Africa," says Wilson. "With AIDS patients 36 times more likely to attempt suicide, this is a critically under-served aspect of health care" (Research according to Prof Sclebusch Natal)
Since founding SADAG 8 years ago, this South African charity has earned a reputation as a pacesetter in innovation both in South Africa and internationally, attracting funding globally as well as wide spread local support.
"Massive work remains, especially since mental health issues still carry enormous stigma in South African society, whether in remote villages in the North Cape or even among so-called "first world" enlightened businesses in our cities," says Wilson.
Wilson said the lack of access to basic mental health services, coupled with social stigmatization, further marginalizes poor people. The World Bank award will also enable SADAG to continue its teen suicide prevention program, "Suicide shouldn't be a Secret" particularly in the hotspots around Kimberley. This has been done in conjunction with the Directorate of Mental Health and the Teen Suicide Help Line.0800 567 567
Judges for the World Bank rated the 2 770 entrants from 63 countries on the basis of project focus, its innovation, sustainability and how readily it could be replicated elsewhere. SADAG’s winning project "Accessing Mental Health Care in Rural South Africa" aims to establish 40 community-led support groups for people suffering from depression, trauma, panic and other mental disorders and to encourage them to come forward for help.
"Our aim is to work with these communities and establish the grassroots support groups which enable people to learn self help skills, medication compliance, accessing facilities, dealing with relapse and other important issues.
Only two other South African projects received awards from the World Bank – one active in fynbos preservation in Cape Town and the other involved with the Council for Scientific Industrial Research in technology development in rural areas. Finalists in the awards included projects from Timor, Argentina, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Ethiopia, the Philippines and India.
According to Wilson, "These awards seek to extend and expand on The World Bank's priority to fight against poverty worldwide by recognizing innovative ideas that test and advance the provision of effective service in developing countries."
Projects in health care were incredibly innovative including training rats to detect TB in 2000 patients a day through saliva samples, preventing the disappearance of medicinal plants from the Amazon Rain forest, simple techniques to remove arsenic from drinking water in Bangladesh, and establishing managed health care for Sex Workers in India.
For further information contact Julia Zachirus on 011 783 1474 or 083 981 5696