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20100612 Mapping Mental Health Finances in Ghana, Uganda, Sri Lanka, India and Lao PDR


20100612 Mapping Mental Health Finances in Ghana, Uganda, Sri Lanka, India and Lao PDR

Limited evidence about mental health finances in low and middle-income countries is a key challenge to mental health care policy initiatives. This study aimed to map mental health finances in Ghana, Uganda, India (Kerala state), Sri Lanka and Lao PDR focusing on how much money is available for mental health, how it is spent, and how this impacts mental health services.
A researcher in each region reviewed public mental health-related budgets and interviewed key informants on government mental health financing. A total of 43 key informant interviews were conducted. 
National ring-fenced budgets for mental health as a percentage of national health spending for 2007-08 is 1.7% in Sri Lanka, 3.7% in Ghana, 2.0% in Kerala (India) and 6.6% in Uganda. Budgets were not available in Lao PDR. The majority of ring-fenced budgets (76% to 100%) is spent on psychiatric hospitals. Mental health spending could not be tracked beyond the psychiatric hospital level due to limited information at the health centre and community levels.
Conclusions: Mental health budget information should be tracked and made publically accessible. Governments can adapt WHO AIMS indicators for reviewing national mental health finances. Funding allocations work more effectively through decentralization. Mental health financing should reflect new ideas emerging from community based practice in LMICs.