Highlights from the 5th International Congress of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ain Shams University, Egypt
By: Dina Aly El-Gabry, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Okasha Institute Of Psychiatry, Ain Shams University
The 17th International Congress of Psychiatry and the 5th International Congress of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ain Shams University was held the Intercontinental Hotel City Stars, Cairo, Egypt between 13th and 15th of September 2022, focusing on the theme “Reality and Myth in Psychopharmacology & Psychotherapy”. The conference was preceded by the opening ceremony of the renovation of the Okasha Institute of Psychiatry, a WPA and WHO collaborative centre , is one of the oldest and most eminent educational and research centres for psychiatry in Africa and the Middle East. The institute was first opened in 1990 and was renovated to keep on track with the most recent advancements in psychiatry. An enlightening plenary lecture about the medicalization of normality was given by the renowned Professor Ahmed Okasha, former President of the WPA and founder of the institute.
The conference was honoured to host a group of distinguished speakers from all over the world, including Professor Daniel Fung, President of the International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP), who gave a mesmerising plenary lecture on the pathway from “Pathogenesis to Salutogenesis”. His talk clarified the concept of Salutogenesis in preventing mental illness and promoting mental health in young children. He also discussed the challenges of developing a mental health research ecosystem and deeply explored how such new concepts and ideology will enhance practice and policy in inadequately resourced areas of research.
The keynote lecture was given by Professor Norbert Shokauskas, Head of the Child and Adolescent section of the WPA, who presented an important lecture on how to enhance Child and Adolescent services and clarified the wide gap between digital health resources polices and their implementation. His talk on how to implement children services in low- and middle-income countries and how the international community could provide help in this regard was received with a lot of enthusiasm from the audience.
Other important topics including the pros and cons of digital mental health services in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the impact of parental conflicts, unstructured families, and the high rates of divorce on the mental health of children in Egypt were also discussed in the conference.
The conference also had very interesting educational workshops, which offered a wide range of subjects that are important to both mental health professionals and parents alike, such as a comprehensive overview in understanding Dyslexia, how to reframe the thinking of parents of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and workshops related to eating and sexual disorders.
A special invitation was extended to Prof Daniel Fung and Prof Norbert Shokauskas to visit the Egyptian General Secretariat of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment (GSMHAT), a governmental body dedicated to the provision of mental health services and drug dependence treatment and rehabilitation. Its scope includes inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient mental health care centres and primary health care services. The GSMHAT supervises a total of 18 governmental mental health hospitals in Egypt. Soon after Professors Fung and Shokauskas visited the outpatient Child and Adolescent service at Abbasiya Hospital, the headquarters of the GSMHAT, where they had the chance to meet with several Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Occupational Therapists to get a more comprehensive understanding of the scope of services provided.
Their next visit included a guided tour of the Ain Shams University, with a number of recent renovations, including an increased bed capacity to 72 inpatient beds in six wards, a new isolation ward for patients with addiction, three large lecture theatres, and five new beds for Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), including one bed for female patients.
Prof Fung and Prof Shokauskas then met with the Head of the International Affairs and the Head of Telemedicine services at the Faculty of Medicine at Ain Shams University. Prof Fung discussed how to improve and formally legalize the digital mental health services, especially as Ain Shams University has helped pioneer telemedicine in Africa and the Arab world. They also discussed how to enhance and improve educational and clinical services that Ain Shams offers to other collaborating countries, such as Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and Ghana.
At the end of the day, Prof Fung and Prof Shokauskas joined the conference President and current Head of Okasha Institute of Psychiatry, Prof Maha Sayed and other members of the Egyptian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Association (ECAPA). The meeting discussed a collaborative agenda on how improve the channels for research and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry services in middle- and low-income countries, with a special emphasis on the importance of promoting early career among Child and Adolescent young psychiatrists.
Finally, under the lively atmosphere of the Cairo night at the Intercontinental Hotel, a gala dinner was hosted by the conference director Prof Afaf Hamed, where the singing choir from Ain Shams University displayed an entertaining repertoire of Egyptian culture and music.