series event

Chesmal Siriwardhana Memorial Lecture 2020

Since 2017, the Centre for Global Mental Health (CGMH) has hosted an annual lecture in memory of our colleague Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana, who died tragically in an accident in London. Chesmal was a talented young researcher, whose focus of work was in mental health and humanitarian settings. The lectures follow this theme each year.

A group of children posing for the camera
Global, regional and national response to COVID-19: protecting and promoting mental health

In this annual lecture, Dr Fahmy Hanna, who is leading the World Health Organization's (WHO) mental health and psychosocial support response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will give a keynote lecture on the global response. We will then have presentations from Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz from the Africa CDC, Addis Ababa and Giselle Dass from the University of Colombo and COMGAP-S, Sri Lanka, on the response in their regions, followed by a panel discussion exploring the factors that have facilitated and hindered the promotion of mental health.



Dr Fahmy Hanna - WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, Geneva

Dr Hanna, a qualified medical doctor and psychiatrist from Egypt, received his post-graduate certificates and trainings in Egypt, UK, India and Italy. Dr Hanna has more than a decade of experience in mental health services and its development in low- and middle-income settings. He most recently has served at the WHO office in Damascus/Syria as a Technical Officer on mental health during the current crisis in the country.

He previously worked at the WHO office in Libya from 2011 to 2014 as a mental health advisor providing technical support for designing and implementing a successful scale-up programme for mental health and psychosocial services during the conflict and in the post-conflict phase. He also served at the WHO EMRO office as a Technical Officer on mental health and substance abuse during 2010-2011 with a focus in his work on the mental health of Displaced Iraqis in the region.

Dr Hanna, during his career, had visited and provided technical consultations for a wide range of programmes on mental health and health of special groups with different donor agencies, Academic institutes, UN and NGOs in many countries including Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Iran, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Before this, he also served in several strategic positions at the Mental Health Department at the Ministry of Health in Egypt and supported the development and implementation of the national mental health information system and the national advocacy campaign for people with mental disabilities in Egypt.

Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz - Africa CDC, Addis Ababa

Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz is the Head of Disease Control and Prevention of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is a foundation fellow of the Africa CDC/African Union fellowship for leadership in public health in Africa and a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians (psychiatry). Before joining Africa CDC, He was a Chief Consultant Psychiatrist in Nigeria and worked in integrating mental health into primary healthcare and Psychosocial support for IDPs in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Giselle Dass - University of Colombo and COMGAP-S, Sri Lanka

Giselle Dass is a psychologist, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Colombo. She is also a director of THEME Institute in Sri Lanka which was a passion of Dr Siriwardhana and established together a year before his demise. She also worked with him in the COMGAP-S programme which aims at integrating mental health into primary health care clinics in northern Sri Lanka.


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