Building Quality Clinical Services, Education, and Research in Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Arabian Gulf Region

By: Symposium Chair and Moderator: Khalid Bazaid, MD, FRCPC Director, Undergraduate Education Program Chair, Canadian Academy of CAP Education Committee Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Youth Psychiatry Program, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre
Symposium Co-Chair and Moderator: Professor Muhammad Waqar Azeem, MD, DFAACAP, DFAPA Chair and Professor, Sidra Medicine / Weill Cornell Medicine Director WPA Collaborating Center Doha, Qatar

This topic was presented in a symposium during the 25th World Congress of International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) held in Dubai World Trade Centre, in December 2022. The symposium aimed to reflect upon success of building mental health care in three important areas; clinical services, education and research, in the Arab Gulf Region (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Kingdom of Bahrain), similar geographical settings with variant resources, to reach a communal goal of improving the mental health care of children and adolescents in the region. 

Left to Right: Dr. Meshal Sultan, Dr. Hanan Derby, Professor Norbert Skokauskas, Dr. Ammar AlBanaa, Professor Ahmed Al Ansari, Professor Bennett Leventhal, Dr. Khalid Bazaid, Dr. Yasser Ad-Dab'bagh, Professor Muhammad Waqar Azeem, and Dr. Omar Almodayfer.

In the first talk, Professor Muhammad Waqar Azeem, presented the journey of establishment of quality clinical services and explained how an institution like Sidra medicine in Qatar was set up in a high-income country, which had limited child, adolescent and perinatal psychiatric services. It commenced provision of perinatal and pediatric psychiatry services with tremendous growth in education, training and research. Sidra established the world’s first and only ACGMEI accredited child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship and designated as World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Collaborating Center. In the second presentation, Dr. Meshal Sultan, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Mental Health Centre of Excellence, Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, Dubai, UAE, discussed the child and adolescent mental health services in a newly advancing model of care at Al Jalila Children's Speciality Hospital, Al Jaddaf – Dubai, UAE. Al Jalila Children’s also established well rounded child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship and a CAMHS inpatient unit. In the third presentation, Dr. Omar Almodayfer, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist Bridge Clinics, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, highlighted the expansion of clinical services, education and training in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Commission for Health Speciality). In the fourth presentation, Professor Ahmed Al Ansari, MD, MBCHB, FRCPC, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Arabian Gulf University, Kingdom of Bahrain, presented on the expansion of clinical services, as well as education training from the Kingdom of Bahrain (The Arab Board of Health Specializations). In the last presentation, Dr. Yasser Ad-Dab'bagh, MD, FRCPC, FIPA, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam, KSA, presented the significance of global research pertinent to mental health and shared the examples from the Gulf States where despite scarcity of resources, a public health institution navigated innovatively to generate new knowledge and search for evidence based in mental health. It emerged as an international research hub, geared to secure competitive funding and conduct collaborative global mental health research. Following the above presentations, Professor Bennett Leventhal, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at UCSF in USA and Professor Norbert Skokauskas from Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, NTNU in Norway, and Dr. Hanan Derby, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Mental Health Centre of Excellence, Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, Dubai, UAE,  served as discussants, provided a constructive feedback and shared a valuable critique. The symposium was very well received by the participants from different parts of the world.