RIYADH: The Kingdom will embark on a national mental health survey in cooperation with members of the private and public sectors to help the country’s disabled population.
Announcing the Third International Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation, which is to start today, Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Disabled Children’s Association (DCA), said yesterday that the survey is to be implemented shortly.
“The program, launched by the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (PSCDR), is meant for conducting epidemiological surveys of diseases related to mental health. It will identify the prevalence and risk factors associated with mental illnesses in the Kingdom,” said Prince Sultan, who also heads the PSCDR.
The objective of the program, he said, is to estimate the prevalence of the morbidity in different regions of the Kingdom over 12 months. “On successful completion, the survey will provide a reliable assessment of the pattern of utilization of mental health services in the Kingdom and correlate demographic and cultural data with regard to various psychiatric conditions,” he said.
Partners and collaborators include the project’s chief financier Dubai-based Abraaj Capital, the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Harvard University and King Saud University.
The PSCDR will also establish a national disability registry to provide reliable statistical information to aid health care professionals, researchers, policy makers and the public in making advances on disability-related issues. This will be carried out with the cooperation of relevant ministries and international NGOs such as World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Program.
Prince Sultan said KACST has made available SR50 million to fund cutting-edge disability research projects over the next five years. “The aim of this initiative is to establish programs that will advance research and clinical trials that will help in the prevention and treatment of diseases resulting in disability. Partners in this project include Shiley Eye Institute, the University of Florida, the University of San Diego, the University of Utah and Harvard Medical School,” he said.
Speaking about today’s conference, Prince Sultan said it would be inaugurated by Prince Sattam, deputy governor of Riyadh. Some 260 participants from 40 countries will discuss the current challenges faced by the disabled community in the global village. In all 116 scientific papers will be tabled during the various sessions of the four-day meet.
He said delegates at the conference would dwell on future challenges and suggest solutions to provide a better life for the physically challenged. The prince stressed that the best way to face these challenges is through scientific research.
“We are happy that we have got an opportunity to serve handicapped people in the Kingdom through this research program,” Arif Naqvi, founder and group chief executive officer of Abraaj Capital, told Arab News. Being an investment company Naqvi said Abraaj has plans to come into the Saudi market shortly.