WASHINGTON: An Indian medical researcher has been awarded the US-based Institute of Medicine's (IOM) 2014 Sarnat Prize for his contributions to improving mental health care in developing countries.
Vikram Patel yesterday was presented with the Sarnat Prize, which consists of a medal and USD 20,000, at IOM's annual meeting in Washington.
"Through his research, Vikram Patel not only brought a largely unacknowledged problem – mental health disorders in developing nations – into the view of the world's policymakers and health care organisations, he has also identified and advanced practical solutions to help those who are suffering," said Victor Dzau, president of IOM.
Patel, professor of international mental health and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the Public Health
Foundation of India, led research that has played a central role in the development of the field of global mental health and improved care for those with mental disorders in resource-poor countries.
Patel conducted groundbreaking epidemiological research that revealed the burden of mental disorders in low- and middle-income nations and showed a strong link between mental disorders and poverty, IOM said.
His research also demonstrated that evidence-based treatments for mental illness can be delivered effectively in these countries by non-specialist health care workers.
Much of this work was carried out in collaboration with Sangath, a nonprofit organisation in India, it added.
"Patel's research has galvanised policymakers and donors to address the large unmet need for mental health care in developing countries and promoted practical tools to improve care in areas where mental health specialists are lacking," the institute said.
His 2003 manual "Where There Is No Psychiatrist" has been used by community health workers worldwide and has been translated into over a dozen languages.