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Lukoye Atwoli calls for increased investment in brain, mental health research

 African College of Neuropsychopharmacology President Professor Lukoye Atwoli. [David Gichuru, Standard]

African College of Neuropsychopharmacology (AfCNP) President Professor Lukoye Atwoli has called for the increased investment on brain health research across the continent as a way of dealing with the impact that mental- ill- health has on individuals, communities, and societies.

 Lukoye who was speaking during the opening of the first-ever Pioneering School on Neuropsychopharmacology in Nairobi and hosted by Aga Khan University, brought to the fore that that the continent is struggling with the burden of mental ill health given that majority of the countries were exposed to risk factors such as war, disasters- both natural and man-made-, insecurity, chronic diseases, food insecurity and political instability.

 “We are a continent that is full of risks for mental ill health and on the other hand we invest very little on interventions, research and treatment in the area of mental health across the continent, this is a problem,” said Lukoye.

 The professor noted that the opening of the pioneer school on Neuropsychopharmacology was a step in the right direction, and that there was need to fund and open more research and treatment centers across the 54 African countries in pursuit of tangible solutions to deal with the mental- ill -health crisis.

 “We in the field congregate like this to examine the state of mental health and brain health to provide tangible solutions on how you begin to start dealing with this crisis. By getting early career scientists like this, then we are looking at sustainability. We expect that things will start changing with the interventions we are taking in events such as this,” he remarked.

 Lukoye also revealed that the school now brings together 21 early- career to mid-level African researchers and 10 distinguished faculty members who are undergoing immersive training in the newly opened school domiciled at Aga Khan University's Brain and Mind Institute.

 During the 7-day program, running from June 2-8 and which focuses on the neuropsychopharmacology of stress and substance use disorders, the early career scientists will have the opportunity to meet and learn from the best in the field of brain and mental health globally.

 "The school aims to empower early-career scientists in brain and mental health by providing opportunities for networking, skill development in research, policy, and advocacy, and professional growth. We hope participants will continue to nurture these connections and grow together professionally long after the program concludes,” noted Lukoye.

 The participants who are experts in psychology, behavioral science, neuroscience, and neurology are drawn from Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa among other countries on the continent.

 According the professor, the main aim of the school is to expand research in brain and mental health, to examine interventions and treatments for mental disorders and neurological conditions and to advance advocacy and education in the area of brain and mental health.

 “In addition to advanced informative training, the school will focus on translating research into treatments, manuscript writing, and the importance of self-care and personal branding. This comprehensive approach aims to create a lasting impact on neuropsychopharmacology research in Africa by empowering the next generation of researchers,” he added.

 The participants are expected to benefit from networking opportunities, skill development in research, policy, and advocacy, and professional growth.

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