Apr 07 - 13, 2008

LAHORE: With the theme of ''Fight Against Stigma'', a three-day international conference of Indo-Pak Punjab Psychiatric Society was held in Lahore in which about 200 psychiatrists-150 from Pakistan and 50 from India participated.

The moot was organised by the Indo-Pak Punjab Psychiatric Society in collaboration with the World Psychiatric Association, Zone-15, Pakistan Psychiatric Society and Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians.

Indo-Pak mental health professionals including Prof. A K Kala, Prof. Anubhav Chavan, Prof. P. Kulhara, Prof. Gurmeet Singh, Prof. IAK Tareen, Prof. Rizwan Taj, Prof. Saad Bashir Malik, Prof. Sharif Chaudhry, Prof. Khalida Tareen, Dr Aftab Asif, Dr D.J. Singh, Dr Farooqn Naeem, and Dr Aftab Asif share their experiences in the field of mental health during this moot.

During the moot, there was a Satellite symposium, scientific and technical sessions in which the mental health professionals presented papers. The participants resolved that there should be greater cooperation between the two sides so that the goal of a healthy society could be achieved.

The 2nd International Indo-Pak Punjab Psychiatric Society (IPPPS) Conference, which started with an inaugural ceremony, studded by many eminent personalities including the chief guest Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran Punjab University vice-chancellor and Prof Malik M. Mubashir, University of Health Sciences vice-chancellor, Dr. Aftab Iqbal Sheikh, Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians President, Prof. Riaz Bhatti, President Punjab Psychiatric Society, Dr. Abdul Majeed Chaudhry, Principal Fatima Jinnah Medical College and Prof Dr Khalid A. Mufti Vice-president South Asian Forum from Pakistan. Dr. AK Kala, President IPPPS, Dr. Ajit Avasthi, Chairman Scientific Committee IPPPS along with 25 eminent mental health professionals from India graced the occasion.

The inaugural ceremony was followed by a full day of scientific sessions at Fountain House Lahore. In the first session that was the plenary session, Dr. Gurmeet Singh (India), Dr. AK Kala (India), Prof Dr Haroon Rashid Chaudhry presided as Chairman, Co-Chairman and Secretary respectively. One of the speakers of this session, Dr. Feriha N. Peracha gave a presentation on "History of Stigma". She enlightened the participants about ''Stigma", "Types of Stigma", and regarding moral and public law for which she said: "There is no evidence that law can really compensate the social sanction against stigma." A presentation on ''Early Intervention in Schizophrenic'' was given by Dr. P. Kulhara whereas Dr. Gurmeet Singh spoke on ''A Rational Approach to Anti-Psychotic Therapy''. Discussants for these sessions were Prof IAK Tareen, Prof Shahida Tareen, Prof Sharif Chaudhry and Prof, Khalid Mufti.

In the next scientific session, Dr. Ajmal Kazmi, Dr. Sandeep Kumar, Dr. Yasmeen Farooqi and Dr. Imran I. Haider presented their papers on ''Fight Against Stigma of Mental illness", ''Fighting Against Stigma-Efforts by Voluntary Organizations'', ''Mental illness-A Pakistani Approach" and ''The Stigmatization of Psychiatric illness among medical students". Dr. Sandeep Kumar, Dr. Yasmeen Farooqi and Dr. Imran I. Haider presented their papers adding up new researches and approaches to their topics.

A symposium on the "Recent Update in Schizophrenia" was held in the parallel session, which was chaired by Prof. Mubashar H. Malik, co-chaired by Prof. Saad Bashir Malik and Prof Dr Fareed Minhas. Dr. Ajit Avasthi (India), Dr. Ritu Mehra (India), Dr. Sandeep Grover (India) and Dr. Suresh Kumar (India) presented papers on "Neurobiology of Schizophrenia", 'Neuro-psychological assessment in Schizophrenia", "Psycho-pharmacological advances and problems thereof" and "Non Psycho-pharmacological management of schizophrenia" respectively.

In another session, Dr. DJ Singh (India), Dr. Aftab Asif (Pakistan), Ms. Shaista Jabeen and Dr. Farooq Naeem and Dr M. Ayub presented papers on "Mental Health Among Police Personnel", "Fight against stigma", " Development of indigenous Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms checklist'', "Mental health problems in Kashmir-18 months after the earthquake" and Molecular Genetics Study-Finding of collaborative Projects", respectively.

A unique cultural and thought provoking event was also held at Fountain House Farm Farooqabad between Pakistani and Indian psychiatrists.

Talking about the theme of the moot, Prof Dr Haroon Rashid Chaudhry told PAGE that the stigma attached to mental illness is the main obstacle to better mental health care and the better quality of life of people who have the illness, of their families, of their communities and of health service staff that deal with psychiatric disorders. ''Stigma is pernicious and there are indications that despite advances of psychiatry and medicine it continues to grow and has more and often terrible consequences for patients and families," he said. In Pakistan, he said relationship problems and financial difficulties are linked to anxiety and depression, whereas supportive family and friends may protect against the development of these disorders.

He said Pakistan's population has been exposed to socio-political instability, economic uncertainty, violence, and conflict for at least the past three decades. He advised the people to be happy and make the other people happy. He further said: ''We need to promote the culture of tolerance and forgiveness to avoid stress in life."