On Friday, February 10th, 2023, Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL) and Ziauddin University launched Pakistan’s first National Centre for Research on Parental Mental Health and Child Development at the Ziauddin University. Pro Chancellor, Prof Nida Hussain, The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder, CEO PILL, Prof Nasim Chaudhry. Prof Zafar Abbas, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Director ORIC Dr. Zulfiqar Umrani, Chair Department of Psychiatry, Ziauddin University Prof Imran Chaudhry, Assistant Directors PILL Mr. Ameer Bux and Sehrish Tofique were present at the occasion. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed to facilitate joint working in mental health research, teaching and training.
Director, ORIC and programme organizer, Dr. Zulfiqar Umrani welcomed the delegates and briefed them about the importance of mental health, particularly research and capacity building in health and social sciences.
Speaking on the occasion of the inauguration Pro Chancellor, Prof Nida Hussain said that it will be a state-of-the-art research centre to lead work on parental and child mental health and wellbeing with a strong focus on capacity and capability building of existing researchers and healthcare workers. She also talked about the importance of training teachers and parents to raise awareness of mental health issues and to early identify and treat them.
The Vice Chancellor, Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder emphasized the importance of mental health issues particularly after covid-19. He assured his full support to the whole team and congratulated them on the successful launch of the centre.
CEO PILL, Prof Nasim Chaudhry said that “The purpose of this centre is to work for parental mental health and ultimately enhance child development. parents, especially in LMICs, experience huge stigma of mental health issues and are unable to fully contribute to their child’s development if they are depressed. Prof Chaudhry highlighted that the evidence-based Learning Through Play plus programme and all the work PILL has completed including an ongoing Grand Challenges Canada funded (LTP+Dads-R-TTS-2106-39652) trial across the city of Karachi should be considered top priority to promote early child development and parental mental health while National Institute of Health (NIH) funded SABAR 2 (NIHR132027) aimed to inform new health care solutions to end preventable stillbirth and neonatal deaths and provide supportive care.
Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Dr Zafar Abbas emphasised the importance of collaboration and partnerships and working together towards shared goals for positive outcomes.
Chairman Department of Psychiatry at Ziauddin Hospital, Prof Imran Chaudhry stressed upon early identification and treatment and shared his experience of working in the UK largest early intervention service. He said through learning from the developed countries we can build on similar models in Pakistan with specific cultural modifications. Prof Chaudhry also discussed the world leading Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT-PK) programme soon to be started with the support from Sindh Health Department in districts Sukkur and Qamber Shahdadkot.
The meeting was concluded with a dedication and commitment that the national centre for research on parental mental health and child development will be a state-of-the-art centre to investigate the prevalence, causes, methods and prevention strategies to overcome this significant public health problem.