Celebrating Progress in Expanding Mental Health Access: Reflections on a Special Visit to the MTRH Recovery & Skills Centre in Western Kenya

By Shingo Iino, PhD, President of the Astellas Global Health Foundation, and Vice President, Sustainability, Corporate Advocacy, Astellas

I was extremely fortunate to recently visit the MTRH Nawiri Recovery & Skills Centre in Eldoret Kenya, the country's first recovery home and skills-building center for adults with severe mental health disorders.

This experience was both special and important, as the Nawiri Centre was built with one of the first grants awarded by the Astellas Global Health Foundation (AGHF). The grant is one of two grants the Foundation has made to the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) through the Indiana University Center for Global Health Equity and in partnership with Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). These grants are expanding mental health services in Kenya and meaningfully addressing the lack of proper diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in particularly vulnerable communities (estimated impact: more than 600,000 lives).

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with MTRH chief executive officer Dr. Wilson K. Aruasa enabled us to celebrate our partnership and underscore our shared commitment to helping improve mental health access for people in urgent need.

The Foundation's support underscores an urgent mental health access challenge. Prevalence of mental health disorders in Kenya ranges between 10-45% across studies, with a community-based evaluation in one county showing that although 45% of people had a lifetime diagnosis, only 1.7% had been previously diagnosed prior to the study. In fact, most low- to middle-income country health systems suffer from inadequate resources with budgetary allocation for mental health services falling below 1% of the health budget. The Nawiri Centre is addressing these realities with a potentially promising pathway to more equitable and efficient mental health diagnosis and delivery services for hard-to-reach populations.

Watch this video to learn more about the Nawiri Centre visit and experience the impact of our partnership as the Foundation continues its work to help build a healthier, more sustainable future for all.

Please also consider following the Foundation's social channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) to keep up with its latest funding updates. I also encourage you to learn more about AMPATH and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Indiana University Center for Global Health Equity, and Dr. Kwobah, along with the Nawiri Centre team. Their tireless efforts are underscoring the value of working together to build a more sustainable world.