Sanofi Mental Health Program (FAST – Fight Against Stigma) – Madagascar

This program is part of a five-year partnership between Sanofi and the Department of Non-Communicable Disease in the Madagascar Ministry of Public Health. It covers 15 districts in five pilot regions of Madagascar, which together have an estimated population of 4.3  million.(1) The goal of the project is to improve access to mental health care in the 5 pilot regions.

The project has two specific objectives: 

  1. Training primary healthcare professionals on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.
  2. Raising awareness among the general public about mental health disorders, through a set of interventions based on Information Education Communication (IEC)/Behavior-Change-Communication (BCC) theory.

Primary healthcare professionals are trained to integrate mental health care into primary care, focusing on seven mental health conditions: epilepsy, schizophrenia, addiction disorders, mood disorders, childhood psychiatric disorders, anxiety disorders, and violent behavior. The trainings were designed to develop skills and competencies to effectively assess, diagnose, treat, support and refer people with mental disorders. 

Specific activities included: 

  • The creation of a mental health care network of specialists and trained General Practitioners (GPs) to further reinforce mental health treatment capacity.
  • Training sessions on the various diseases for a total of 100 GPs in the 5 pilot regions. These include supervised sessions of the trained GPs by Psychiatrists.
  • An annual scientific event on mental health for health care professionals.
  • Annual sponsorship of a University Diploma on mental health training for 10 doctors. The BCC component of the program involves a wide range of interventions that aim to raise awareness, decrease patient stigmatization, promote mental health seeking behavior, and ultimately lead to positive health outcomes.

Activities based on BCC interventions in this program included: 

  • Development and public dissemination of BCC materials adapted to the local context. For example, booklets with cartoon stories using the local language have made it easier for patients and their families to understand the disease. (3). Similarly educational flipcharts with pictures reflecting local situations have been developed, which can be used for one-on-one sessions, or group interactions, with key messages to be delivered and suggested questions to stimulate dialogue.
  • Annual celebration of the mental health week in one of the pilot regions, including awareness sessions, radio campaign, psychoeducation of people with mental disorders and their families, as well as training of healthcare providers.
  • Epilepsy information campaigns in schools to reduce the stigma among the young population.

References:

(1)  Data from Ministry of Public Health of Madagascar & National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT).

(2) BCC: HTTPS://WWW.MEASUREEVALUATION.ORG/PRH/RH_INDICATORS/SERVICE-DELIVERY/BCC

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