Organizations in Africa and Elsewhere Les Organismes en Afrique et ailleurs

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  • Organizations in Africa and Elsewhere Les Organismes en Afrique et ailleursAuthor(s): Ronald M. WintrobSource: Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne des tudes Africaines, Vol. 2,No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pp. 97-103Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Canadian Association of African StudiesStable URL: .Accessed: 18/06/2014 01:04

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    Organizations in Africa and elsewhere Les organismes en Afrique et ailleurs

    Report on the 2nd PanAfrican Psychiatric Conference

    The 2nd PanAfrican Psychiatric Conference was convened in Dakar, Senegal, from the 5th to the 9th of March, 1968, under the co-chairmanship of Professor Henri Collomb, Professor of Neuropsychiatry, University of Dakar, and Professor T.A. Lambo, Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Among the 230 participants in the conference less than ten had been present at the first PanAfrican Psychiatric Conference which was held in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1961. The total number of participants at the second conference was far greater than that of the first, reflecting the rapid development of scientific interest in African psychiatry and the conco- mitant rapid increase of mental health facilities and psychiatric personnel working in Africa. Other differences between the two conferences were the exclusion of neurology from the programme of the present conference, and the extremely limited participation by British psychiatrists in the second Pan- African conference whereas the earlier conference had been largely dominated by the British school of neurology and psychiatry, prominently represented by Sir Aubrey Lewis and Lord Brain. The second PanAfrican Psychiatric Confe- rence, receiving as it did an important element of financial support from the French government through its technical assistance branch, was largely dominated by the French school of psychiatry. Senior French participants included Professor Castaigne, Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of Paris, and Professor Roger Bastide, Professor of Social Psychiatry at the Sorbonne.

    The increasing scientific interest in problems of African psychiatry is reflected by the wide distribution of participants from both African countries and other parts of the world, including Hong Kong, Israel, Uruguay, Western and Central Europe, Canada and the United States. By far the largest delegation of non-African participants came from France and the second largest group was Canadian. The Canadian group was represented by some fifteen psychiatrists


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    of whom thirteen were from Quebec. The American delegation was somewhat smaller than the Canadian. There were no British participants in the Confe- rence. A large number of African countries were represented. Among the African countries represented at the conference were Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, the Niger Republic, the Malagasay Republic, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The United Arab Republic, Tunisia, and the Sudan also sent representatives.!

    Excluding Southern Africa there are at present three university depart- ments of psychiatry in Sub-Sahara Africa. The largest of the three departments and the only one whose chairman and members are predominantly African is the Department of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry at the University of Ibadan. A second department of psychiatry in the anglophone areas of Africa is located in East Africa at Makerere College in Uganda. This depart- ment was established in 1965 under the chairmanship of the British psychiatrist Allen-German. The third sub-Sahara university department of psychiatry is that of Professor Collomb at the University of Dakar, which is staffed by some ten psychiatrists and psychologists of whom the majority are French.

    In the period since the first PanAfrican Psychiatric Conference in 1961 the body of literature on African psychiatry has greatly expanded, due in large part to the focal stimulation of the three university departments and most particularly the longer-established departments at Dakar and Ibadan. North of the Sahara, university departments of psychiatry have been in existence for some time in Algeria and the United Arab Republic, and more recently in Tunisia and the Sudan.2

    Although there has been a great increase in the number of psychiatrists participating in the development of psychiatric facilities in Africa, it will be appreciated that the demand for facilities and services far outstrips the available numbers of personnel and in most of the countries listed there is usually only one or at most a few psychiatrists available. The overwhelming majority of psychia- trists in Africa south of the Sahara are Europeans and North Americans whose activities are sponsored by international agencies, foreign aid programs of developed countries, or by direct support from the host governments. Typical of the participation of Europeans in the development of psychiatric facilities in Africa is the work of the Dutch psychiatrist Giel and his sociologist colleague Van Liujk in Ethiopia. With the support of the government of the Netherlands

    1. A South African scientist arrived in Dakar to participate in the conference, but in part as a result of a student demonstration against South African participation, the South African delegate was obliged to leave Senegal post haste.

    2. It should be borne in mind that in African studies a sharp distinction is drawn between Sub-Sahara or Negro Africa and Africa north of the Sahara: Arab Africa. A considerable antipathy and suspiciousness has characterized the relations between Arab and Negro Africans, based on the repeated incursions of Arab slavers into Sub-Saharan Africa over the course of many centuries.


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    Giel and Van Liujk have, since 1966, done pioneering work in establishing the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the hospitalized and non-hospitalized population, the mental health implications of the high frequency of marriage breakdown and parental loss in childhood and the psychological effects of urbanization. Similarly the government of Israel has contributed in an important way to the development of psychiatric facilities in Malawi and in Liberia. The development of psychiatric facilities in the Republic of Liberia has resulted from the combined efforts of the Liberian government, the Liberian Red Cross Society, the International Committee Against Mental Illness (New York), McGill University, and the Menninger Foundation. In East Africa mental health facilities have been developed with British participation as illustrated by the work of Haworth in Zambia, Allen-German and Orey in Uganda, and Swift in Tanzania. The Government of France continues to play an important part in the development of mental health facilities and psychiatric education in the Francophone areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Senegal and the Ivory Coast. However, just as the number of psychiatrists per country can usually be numbered on the fingers of one hand, so the number of psychiatric wards in general hospitals or of psychiatric hospitals per se in each country can similarly be numbered on the fingers of one hand.

    The role of native healers and faith healers in the care of the mentally ill varies from country to country. In some countries, such as Nigeria, native healers have been intergrated into the psychiatric treatment team, whereas in Uganda they have been banned from practice by law. In Ghana, where the role of native healers and faith healers has been studied by Kirson Weinberg and by M.J. Field, the Government officially disapproves of their activities, but they are tolerated. In virtually all sub-Saharan countries the treatment of mental disorders in rural areas is almost exclusively in the hands of native healers. Understandably therefore the role and treatment techniques of native healers and faith healers were important topics for discussion at the second PanAfrican Psychiatric Conference.

    The Conference was well organized by the staff of the Depart- ment of Neuropsychiatry of the University of Dakar with the back-up suppo