Dr. Niaz was invited as a key note speaker at the recent annual symposium. The topic was “Can psychiatrists handle psychosocial consequences of Wars Insurgencies and Terrorist Attacks, promote positive mental health?” The example of GCMHP was given which provides mental health services to the whole population of the Gaza Strip with the philosophy of providing comprehensive community mental health service. GCMHP has played a vital role in promoting resilience, awareness of mental health consequences of longstanding war on the civilians particularly the children. Innovative methods of
treatment and rehabilitation of the survivors of ongoing trauma are remarkable example of the dedication, duty and care of the staff of GCMHP.
Dr. Eyad-El-Siraaj (Second from left) with other members of GCMHP at a meeting following Gaza Siege.
The images of war are everywhere in Gaza. If not in the immediate damage of an air strike, they are in murals of violence and hardship on the territories' dilapidated walls, in the torn martyr posters of young men with their weapons, plastered to the concrete, and in the graffiti that urges resistance; but there is no apparent violence or insecurity in the city. The Gazan’s carry on their struggles unabated, with steely resilience and faith in their struggle for the sovereignty of Palestine.
Though such a CommunityMental Health Program is not easy to develop or run for variety of reasons but a network of MHW in large cities of Pakistan can set up crises intervention centers, trauma counseling services, and general awareness of the mental health consequences of violence, deteriorating law and order situation, and terrorist attacks .The Media can be sensitized to prevent further traumatization by reckless reporting and showing horrific scenes of death and destruction. This issue reports mainly the visit to Gaza, Cairo Phase conference on VAW and the forthcoming activities of IPTP.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP):
The Gaza Community MentalHealth Programme (GCMHP) is the leading Palestinian non-governmental organization which provides mental health services to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. The organization's stated purpose is committed to aid women, children, and victims of violence, torture, and human rights violations. The organization has over 135 employees, is involved with 18 international, regional and local coalitions and networks, and has treated over 20,000 clients.
GCMHP was founded in 1990 by Eyad al-Sarraj. The head office is located in the Sheikh Ejleen neighborhood, across from the Gaza Municipality Beach Club. In 2008, the premises were damaged by Israeli shelling of a nearby Palestinian police station forcing GCMHP to relocate temporarily to the Gaza Community Center. GCMHP's vision is to secure a Palestinian society that respects human rights and in which people are able to live in freedom and with dignity.
THE LEADERSHIP OF GCMHP:
Dr. Eyad El Sarraj a psychiatrist and a human rights activist is the founder of GCMPH. He is the recipient of 2010 Olof Palme Prize and Juan J. Lopez Ibor" 2010 Award, Dr.Eyad Sarraj is a living legend of Gaza who is not dissuaded by any of the setbacks, pain and suffering, he continues to work with unstinted zeal for his community in Gaza.
He founded the international campaign to break the siege of Gaza and brought the first free boat. And later, when
nelected to chair the Reconciliation group to help Hamas and Fatah, he is continuing work for the peace and reconciliation.
About, half of the Gaza Strip's inhabitants are children, and many have not emotionally recovered from Israel's military attacks. They are still living in the ruins of war, and looming threat of imminent violence and air raids. GCMHP research has depicted that Palestinian children have developed feelings of hostility, anger, fear and frustration. In response to this GCMHP has implemented a school mediation program which aims to reduce the level of violence and to educate children in peaceful conflict resolution techniques.
Women’s Mental Health in Gaza:
Like all the patriarchal Muslim societies, Palestinian Women, also suffer as the society legitimizes violence against women. The society considers violence against women, as a sensitive issue, and a kind of necessary for the discipline according to wrong interpretation of the religion. Palestinian women continue to experience a variety of traumatic events, like exposure to shooting, shelling of their homes, witnessing killing of close relatives, being detained at their homes and, internal displacement, home and land destruction. These traumatic events lead to significant anxiety, depression, somatic and social dysfunctional symptoms and PTSD. But women continue to take care of their children and family in spite of devastating effect of war. Some of Gaza women suffer from male violence and from the tribal male dominated traditions. Some cases of suicide and honor killing are reported.
VISIT TO GAZA PALESTINE:
I was invited by Dr. Eyad El Sarraj, the President of Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) to attend their International Resource Group Meeting in Luxor Egypt from 23rd to 27TH December’2012 and later to visit Gaza Palestine.
Visit to Gaza, was a unique and memorable experience of my life. This small strip of Gaza is on the magnificent, azure Mediterranean Sea. Gaza City is the Strip's biggest population centre and has about 400,000 inhabitants. As in other towns in Gaza, there are high levels of poverty, deprivation and unemployment in Gaza City. Most Gazan’s live in eight refugee camps to which the United Nations delivers health, education and other humanitarian services. I found a rare beauty and serenity, in Gaza; the people’s self-reliance their quiet and peaceful struggles in their daily lives, all were emotionally moving and incredible.
Talk by Dr. Unaiza Niaz at the GCMHP International Resource Group Meeting in Luxor:
Palestine is at the heart of all the Muslims of the world. Historically, Palestine in the Muslim countries has been a source of great emotional and intellectual concern. Particularly, we as Non-Arab Muslim countries, look for connection with our roots in Islam. Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, have always been in the forefront for support for the cause of Palestine.
It was a great opportunity to be able to visit Gaza. Dr. Eyad is a great colleague, visionary and a human rights activist. Gaza is a small strip of land on the Mediterranian Sea. The Gaza people are brave, survivors, struggling hard for the freedom of Palestine. I was
ntold I am the first Pakistani (a woman) to travel on green passport.
The civilian population of Palestine has been subject to years of political tension and turmoil, but in this gloom and despair, GCMHP came into being as a source of strength and sustenance, for the people of Gaza. GCMHP is an example of rare insight into the art healing therapies of insufferable psychological trauma (PTSD) support of a continuously traumatized community, and the choice of dealing with the atrocities, from human rights angle.
This unique and inspiring Community Mental Health Program is a valuable contribution, of the Mental Health Professionals in Gaza, for not only their own people, but indeed a large source of valuable academic/clinical research data in the field of Psycho Trauma.
International Group Meeting and Luxor
FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN MY OPINION:
• I am keen to replicate GCMHP in our Tribal areas/Fata (which has suffered more than 30 years of wars, conflicts, terrorist and drone attacks). Clinical and research studies of this program will be a valuable and academically useful contribution for us in Pakistan in the field of Psycho Trauma.
• Highlighting the Human Rights aspects of innocent civilian populations suffering (Gaza, Kashmir, and Pakistan borders, Afghanistan) will give a different perspective to the present and continuing research data on Psycho-trauomatology. We could start a new beginning of our joint research studies and projects, in these and related areas of interest.
• Create further awareness and understanding of the GCMHP.
• Explore possibilities of support for GCMHP for instance, offer practical help in training, research and academic programs.
• Provide forums for GCMHP to talk/share experiences with other Mental Health Professionals, other intellectuals, human rights activists, and politicians at the helm of affairs in the Muslim World for a united voice for the freedom of Palestine.
• We as mental health professionals, must reach our counterparts, and people at the helm of affairs globally and plead for conflict resolution rather than violence and Wars in our so called civilized world.
PARTICIPATION IN CONGRESSES:
• Presentation by Dr. Unaiza Niaz as invited speaker at the annual symposium of the Jinnah postgraduate medical center, Karachi - 2011
Wars Insurgencies and Terrorist Attacks in the Muslim World: How can psychiatrists handle psychosocial consequences, promote positive mental healthcare and build morale of their communities?
The psychosocial perspectives of Wars Insurgencies and Terrorist attacks not only have a high mortality rate but a tremendous psychosocial impact. The psychosocial perspectives are mostly ignored as they are not generally visible, in the earlier stages.
The health professionals, particularly the psychiatrists have a major role in identifying and indicating that violence in wars, terrorism has a grave aftermath leading to major public health problems with serious mental health implications.
A recent visit to the Gaza Community Mental Health Program was extremely enlightening and inspiring. GCMHP is an innovative community mental health programs in the war torn occupied Palestinian territory - The Gaza Strip.
GCMHP is clearly playing a vital role in healing, sustaining, and promoting positive mental health. The civilian population of Palestine since 1948 has been subject to political tension and turmoil but in this gloom and despair GCMHP came into being as a source of strength and sustenance for the people of Gaza. GCMHP is an example of rare insight into the art
nhealing therapies of insufferable psychological trauma (PTSD) support of a continuously traumatized community and the choice of dealing with the atrocities from human rights angle.
Psychiatrists, in the Muslim World need to take cognizance of their duties in these trying times. Like GCMHP, Psychiatrists can develop indigenous programs, which can play a vital role in healing and maintaining positive mental health and morale of our communities to continue their struggles to maintain their sovereignty or struggle for the liberation from unjust occupation. And support promotion of peace, justice and human rights.
Guest Speaker at the International Aviation Congress Karachi Pearl Continental Hotel - 21st June’2011
Presentation as the Invited Guest Speaker at the International Aviation Congress Karachi Pearl Continental Hotel - 21st June’2011 organized by PALPA-PIAC UPCOMING EVENTS BY IPTP 1. Media Awareness Workshop will be rescheduled, in October as June program had to be
postponed due to unavoidable circumstances (strikes, violence etc in the city).
Ammet Workshops for psychologists and psychiatrists
Ammet Workshops for psychologists and psychiatrists in September, Trainer Rehana Webster from Australia has volunteered to train mental health professionals in this technique to handle trauma.
Dubai Conference - Plenary Lecture Women’s Mental Health &National Development: a Perspective from Pakistan.
Many advances have been made in our understanding of mental illnesses, effective treatments, and promising approaches for promoting mental health, resilience, and fulfilling lives for those living with mental illnesses. A key component of this progress has been the increased understanding of the critical role of gender in the risks, course, and treatment of mental illnesses. However, for this knowledge to be effective, it must be translated into tangible actions that can promote change and support progress to improve the mental and overall health of our Nation’s women and girls
WPA Berlin 8 to 12 OCTOBER 2017
Symposium on Leadership In Women’s Mental Health My Presentation- Women Leaders in Psychiatry: A Trans cultural Perspective presented by Unaiza Niaz
Culture and INTERNATIONAL Womens Mental Health,8TH November 2017 Manchester UK
7 - 9th Nov - Global Mental Health Seminar, Manchester Research Group, And Roshni - Promoting Positive Mental Health for British South Asian Mothers L -R Drs Nasim Chowdhery, Unaiza Niaz, Meher Husain and Rakhshi Memon
Launching of Sashi 2 Suicide Prevention Program for South Asian Women in Manchester with GP’s and British - Pakistani Women Psychiatrists‘ at the dinner in Manchester Museum
22nd National Psychiatric Conference of Pakistan Psychiatric Society in historical city of Hyderabad on 17th to 19th November 2017
The theme of the conference is “Promotion of Mental Health - Building Partnerships”. Prof Unaiza Niaz was awarded the International Pioneer and Diversity Award for her services rendered towards Education Research, Patient and Community in the Field of psychiatry in Pakistan and given the Avicenna Medal by the Brain Trust Charity UK.
Workshop on Needs of Refugee Women. Dublin IAWMH. Jan 2018