Welcome message from Dinesh Bhugra CBE, WPA President

Dear Friends

president wpa2It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome you to Cape Town for the WPA International Congress with the theme “Psychiatry: integrative care for the community” hosted by the South African Society of Psychiatrists. It is the first time that a WPA International Congress is being held in South Africa.

Psychiatry is the most complex, intellectually stimulating and rewarding medical speciality. The social and economic burden resulting from mental illnesses is more than that of cancer and cardiac disorders, and the inter-relationship between physical and psychiatric disorders is often ignored. Public mental health can enable us to serve our patients and their carers better, as well as the larger society.  The challenges of integrating primary and secondary care, integrating physical and mental health care and health and social care are significant, and we need to find ways of doing so to deliver better health care.

Many countries in Africa are providing innovative services in spite of limited resources and we need to learn from each other and share experiences, successes and failures. Many traditional health care models already see physical and mental health integrated and we need to be open-minded about how we learn from other schools of medicine. As we progress through the 21st century, the recent economic downturn has made it even more challenging to deliver services for which demand is increasing. But resources are being progressively reduced just when they are needed most. The profession itself is facing many other challenges related to mental health and service delivery. As a profession we need to explore and develop different ways of dealing with and delivering mental health care.

This Congress is a major step forward in helping to develop psychiatric services as well as training of mental health professionals in a more integrated manner, and it provides a serious platform for discussion and debate to develop services which our patients will be willing to use.  World Psychiatric Association is committed to improving the health care of psychiatric patients through raising standards of training, education as well as clinical practice. This Congress provides an excellent opportunity to share academic knowledge, increase social interactions and support each other.

I look forward to seeing you in Cape Town, meeting with you and sharing experiences so that we can take the field of psychiatry forward.

Dinesh Bhugra CBE
Professor of Mental Health and Cultural Diversity, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London
President World Psychiatric Association (2014-2017)

WPA 2016 Conference

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