DUBAI, 6th December, 2022 (WAM) — The 25th edition of the World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP), the world’s largest event of its kind, got underway at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) today with a colourful opening ceremony in the presence of Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, and several distinguished personalities.
Hosted by Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, the UAE’s first and only dedicated children’s hospital, and organised by the IACAPAP, the four-day event will run until 9th December. The World Congress is being held in the Arab world for the first time in IACAPAP’s 86-year history, underscoring Dubai’s status as a global healthcare hub. The 25th edition of the biennial congress is being held under the theme ‘Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Shaping the Future.’
The opening ceremony featured soulful performances by the UAE Youth Orchestra and the Dubai Center for Special Needs. The inauguration was followed by an insightful session on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by Dr Philippe Robaey, head of the ADHD team at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Muftau Mohammed, a multi-award-winning psychiatrist and a King’s College London alum, and Nelly Raafat, Professor of Psychiatry at Zagazig University.
In her address, Buhumaid said that hosting the first IACAPAP World Congress in the Arab world is an honour for the UAE. She said the event offers a global platform to discuss mental health issues and challenges related to children and adolescents, share knowledge and research, exchange ideas and best practices to promote mental health and rethink our priorities.
The minister said the goals of the congress were aligned with the National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing under the Ministry of Community Development. Wellbeing is and shall remain a government priority in the UAE. She said this is reflected in the strategic objectives of the national wellbeing strategy, which aims to nurture and sustain good mental wellbeing and inspire positive thinking as a core life value.
Buhumaid noted that response to triggers, factors and overwhelming situations is the outcome of the interaction between psychological, social, physiological, and genetic factors in the area of child and adolescent mental health, including early signs, risk factors, early intervention, continuous support, and inclusiveness.
Congress Chair and head of the IACAPAP 2022 organising committee, Dr. Ammar Albanna, said the World Congress in Dubai would allow attendees to become familiar with the underlying elements of the mental health issue, which are often disregarded by many.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health and how we need to work together to promote mental health collectively,” said Dr. Albanna, who is President of the Emirates Child and Adolescent Mental Health Society and Head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centre of Excellence at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital.
“We learned that taking care of our mental health is not a luxury but a necessity, given the rise in mental disorders in all communities worldwide. With under-resourced services and increased demand, there is a considerable gap and, therefore, a need for innovative solutions to bridge this gap,” Dr. Albanna added.
Dr. Abdullah Al Khayat, Chief Executive Officer of Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, said the congress is the perfect platform for professionals to discover the latest trends in mental healthcare. “Since the pandemic, the number of patients with mental health problems has increased alarmingly, making it extremely challenging for healthcare providers to support them. Events like this are ideal for professionals to network and familiarise themselves with the various treatment and approaches,” he added.
Dr. Daniel Fung, President of the IACAPAP, said, “IACAPAP was established for two purposes, to promote child and adolescent psychiatry and allied professions and to promote the mental health and the development of children and adolescents. The organisation supports child psychiatrists, fosters their training, and supports collaboration within and across professions. We focus on researching the causes of health and happiness, advocating for children, and finding the resources necessary to carry out preventive work to lessen traumatic childhood experiences,” he said.
“In this world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, we must find the strength to do research that is different, look for resources and fight for the rights of children so that they can be responsible for their future and ours,” he added.
More than a dozen concurrent sessions covered a variety of subjects, including autism spectrum disorders, developmental disorders, mental health services, access to care, barriers, epidemiology, and public health in child and adolescent psychiatry.
The congress will continue on Tuesday with various sessions, including the Youth Circle, a forum to enable youth to express their opinions on societal issues and policy matters and to catalyse community impact and youth leadership. Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and The Future, and Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, will attend the session at 13:00 on 7th December.
The one-hour session will see Warren Y.K. Ng MD MPH, Medical Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health NYPH-CUMC AA, CAP President; Prof. Bruno Falissard, Head of Public Health and Mental Health Research Lab; and Prof. Dr. Christina Schwenck, Chair of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Giessen University, addressing a host of topics concerning children’s mental health.
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