The Centre and its mission:
A global research centre focusing on health systems responses to accelerate Universal Health Coverage in the context of population ageing, and health emergencies and disaster risk management.
Mental health challenges are of significant concern for everyone after a disaster. This World Mental Health Day, it is crucial to remember that these challenges aren’t just in the immediate aftermath, but often become a chronic condition, especially for children and adolescents.
A new study funded by the WHO Kobe Centre (WKC) proves the devastating impact of emergencies and disasters on mental health many years after the disaster has happened. Pulling together the results of over 200 studies done in English, Chinese, and Japanese, a multinational team led by Dr Elizabeth A. Newnham of Curtin University has shown that depression and anxiety rates remain elevated for years following a disaster, with significantly higher rates for children and adolescents.
“On average, 24% of people affected by disasters will develop clinically significant post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) in the first six months following exposure, 28% will develop depressive symptoms, and 23% will develop anxiety.”
The first multilingual systematic review of its kind, it finds that mental health rates showed a gradual improvement over time, but trajectories varied by disorder. Prevalence of PTSS significantly improved in the years following exposure, and the trajectory of recovery did not differ by age.
However, prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms remained elevated for years following disasters, and children and adolescents reported significantly higher rates compared to adults both right after the disaster as well as years afterwards.
“These findings augment calls for sustainable systems of mental healthcare to be established in disaster-affected settings, with specific attention to child and adolescent psychological needs”
The study signals that tailored interventions are needed to address high levels of PTSS, depression and anxiety in the earlier stages of recovery, with continued attention to depression and anxiety among trauma-affected populations in the years following disaster.
The study signals that tailored interventions are needed to address high levels of PTSS, depression and anxiety in the earlier stages of recovery, with continued attention to depression and anxiety among trauma-affected populations in the years following disaster
Find the study here.
Hear from the lead researcher, Dr Elizabeth A. Newnham of Curtin University
Elizabeth A. Newnham, Enrique L.P. Mergelsberg, Yanyu Chen, Yoshiharu Kim, Lisa Gibbs, Peta L. Dzidic, Makiko Ishida DaSilva, Emily Y.Y. Chan, Kanji Shimomura, Zui Narita, Zhe Huang, Jennifer Leaning, Long term mental health trajectories after disasters and pandemics: A multilingual systematic review of prevalence, risk and protective factors, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 97, 2022.
School of Population Health, Curtin University
Curtin enAble Institute
Asia Pacific Disaster Mental Health Network
Today, 19 September 2022, Japan celebrates “Respect for the Aged Day”. The Day honors and appreciates the contributions senior citizens have made to society. The WHO Centre for Health Development in Kobe (WHO Kobe Centre or WKC) is proud to be associated with this national day through Hyogo Prefecture, the origin of this honourable tradition and one of our key benefactors along with Kobe City.
Japan is world famous for its very high population of centenarians – people who are over one hundred years old. We honor them and all older people who contribute so much to our community.
Most countries in the world now face a similar challenge as Japan – a emergent older population that require integrated health and social systems that are prepared to respond to their changing needs. Integrated long-term care is essential for older persons’ wellbeing; yet, formal long-term care systems are far less developed in most countries compared to health care systems.
At WKC, we work with partners across the globe and in the Kansai region of Japan to identify factors that affect equitable access to health and social care services for older people. We draw on lessons from the Kansai region of Japan and the Asia Pacific Region more widely to inform global policy development and help national authorities to take appropriate action to address the inequities that older people face in accessing needed care. For example, as the world moves to accelerate access to Universal Health Care (UHC), WKC is advocating for monitoring frameworks and metrics that measure how well health systems are adapting to the complex health needs of older persons. For more information about our mission, read further here.
As a part of the Global Gerontology Course at Juntendo University organized by Dr Myo Nyein Aung, Dr Sarah L Barber gave a lecture to students about the economic implications of population ageing and long-term care on 17 June 2022. She emphasized that investments in promoting healthy ageing can have important benefits to individuals and economic returns to the community and society. The students actively engaged in discussing the challenges of convincing governments particularly in low- and middle-income settings to invest in healthy ageing and long-term care systems.
The WHO Centre for Health Development (WHO Kobe Centre – WKC) has produced an Achievements Report for the WHO biennium of January 2020 to December 2021.
The report coincides with the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as two external reviews of the Centre. It reflects WKC’s new mission and vision, and the consequent realignment of its research agenda focusing on two broad themes of universal health coverage (incorporating service delivery, sustainable financing, innovation and metrics), and health emergencies and disaster risk management.
Our work would not be possible without the support of the Kobe Group and the Hyogo and Kobe communities, and the guidance and assistance we receive from the WKC Advisory Group and the WKC Scientific Working Group.
WKC is a global research centre of excellence focusing on health systems responses to accelerate Universal Health Coverage in the context of population ageing, and health emergencies and disaster risk management.
Click here to read the report.
World Health Day on 7 April 2022 focuses on ‘Our Planet, Our Health’ and will draw global attention to the urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.
WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. The climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. It is also a health crisis. For example:
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted vast inequities in our world. Health systems are the main line of defence for populations faced with emerging health threats, including from climate change. To protect health and avoid widening health inequities, countries must build climate-resilient health systems.
Sustainable ‘well-being societies’ are committed to achieving equitable health now and for future generations while respecting ecological limits. A well-being economy has human well-being, equity and ecological sustainability as goals which are translated into long-term investments, well-being budgets and ecological sustainability.
Breaking cycles of destruction for the planet and human health requires legislative action, corporate reform and social environments which support and encourage individuals to make healthy choices.
WHO is urging governments and the public to share stories of steps they are taking to protect the planet and their health and prioritize well-being societies.
The WHO Kobe Centre conducts research and promotes its uptake to ensure that more people will be better protected from the health impact of emergencies and disasters.
A global centre of excellence for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and innovation
To promote innovation and research for equitable and sustainable UHC, building on our comparative advantage in the areas of UHC, health financing, ageing and health emergency and disaster risk management, and drawing on lessons from Japan and the Asia Pacific Region and more widely to inform global policy development