APPEH chairperson, Jon Jureidini, heard Prof Olayinka Omigbodun, a Nigerian psychiatrist and president of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) speak at a child psychiatry conference in Melbourne. She discussed the idea of child and adolescent mental health clinics or departments in privileged countries partnering with departments or services in the developing world, and it started Jon thinking. In his keynote address he reiterated Professor Omigbodun’s idea and expanded upon it. What if psychiatrists and other professionals in wealthy countries such as Australia paired with under employed professionals in a developing country? By contributing 5 to 20 per cent of their own salary the well-off professional would provide the full salary for a therapist, for example, in a country where the salary would be a fraction of the cost it would be in Australia. This would mean that for an affordable fraction of the salary for a senior professional in a rich country, a professional can be employed and supported in a poorer country, potentially doubling the productivity from their salary/income.
Just as importantly, this doubling/pairing would begin a partnership between two therapists working in very different circumstances but leading to mutual learning, a potential exchange of materials and expertise.
Partnerships might also be set up between departments rather than individuals. An academic or clinical group in each country could set up a relationship analogous to sister cities, whereby each takes interest in the activity of the other. Each would promote and publicise the other’s activities, with the richer sister also providing financial and other support.
As a tax-deductible charity that already supports Palestinian workers in the Middle East, APPEH can play a pivotal role. The APPEH board committed to supporting a pilot doubling between Jon Jureidini and a suitable therapist working in Palestine (or with Palestinians elsewhere in the region). This resulted in support for the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture (TRC) in Ramallah (see here).
The Doubling Project has been unsuccessful in securing a sponsor site to act as a host, after contacting and beginning conversations with both the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. Other options are now being explored.