Approximately 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder at any point in time. (1) These disorders are found in all countries across the globe and they include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, addictions, schizophrenia and other psychoses. Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy. (2) Psychiatric disorders are now recognized as being among the first contributors to the global burden of disease.(3) Their impact continues to grow with significant consequences, in all countries of the world, on health, and also with very important social, human rights and economic repercussions.(1)
In low and middle-income countries, insufficient specialized human resources, inadequate training of primary care workers, traditional beliefs surrounding mental disorders, as well as stigmatization and discrimination are the most common barriers to access to care. Although in many cases effective treatments exist, 75-85% of patients with mental disorders or epilepsy living in low and middle-income countries do not receive suitable treatment. (1,2,4)
In 2008, Sanofi joined forces with the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) to set up the Fight Against STigma (FAST) program. Through the FAST program, as well as via a partnership with the Institute of Epidemiology and Tropical Neurology (IENT , UMR 1094 Inserm), we have launched initiatives in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Developed with local health authorities, local experts and health professionals, patient associations and NGOs, these programs aim to improve access to care for patients with mental disorders or epilepsy in low-and middle-income countries. They are based on training health workers, raising public awareness, educating patients and their families. Thanks to these initiatives, thousands of patients who were previously neglected and excluded are seeking medical help and receiving treatment so they are able to resume a normal life with their families.
To date, over 8,470 healthcare workers have been trained, over 2 million people have been reached through awareness and educational activities, and over 101,000 people with mental illness or epilepsy have been diagnosed and/or treated.
New initiatives have recently been launched in Myanmar, Mali and Bolivia to further tackle the burden of mental disorders and help build crucial capacity.
Improving access to mental health care in Myanmar
"Sanofi is strongly committed to improving access to quality care for patients suffering from mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries. Our actions are also aimed at combating discrimination against these patients and ensuring they are integrated in the healthcare system."
Head, Global Health Programs, Sanofi
- WHO. Media Centre, Mental Disorders, Fact Sheet, April 2018.
- WHO. Media Centre, Epilepsy, Fact Sheet, February 2018.
- Vigo D. et al. Estimating the true global burden of mental illness. Lancet Psychiatry 2016; 3:171-178.
WHO – Mental health action plan 2013-2020.
for more information