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Mental disorders in the developing world

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 23 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1052
  1. M Abas,
  2. J Broadhead

    Disorders such as depression and anxiety account for around 15% of consultations in primary health care in places as diverse as the Sudan, Colombia, and London.1, 2 Yet in many health care settings, depression is neither diagnosed nor treated and receives hardly any resources.3

    Health ministers may, however, take notice of a recent development report by the World Bank, which used the loss of “disability adjusted life years” (or DALYs) to describe the global burden of disease.4 A DALY takes into account the estimated severity of the disability caused by a disease and the number of years of health life lost as a result. While such a generic measure is of limited use in comparing such different diseases as schizophrenia, cancer, and diabetes, the findings are nevertheless striking and are supported by those of at least one other study.5

    Of the non-communicable disorders, psychiatric illnesses were …

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