Man and woman in Laos with mental disorder

There Is No Health Without Mental Health

Despite the huge impact on people’s lives, mental disorders remain the most neglected area of public health, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to recently call for “the world to come together and begin redressing the historic neglect of mental health.”1

This neglect is particularly true for people living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where more than 75% of people with mental disorders or epilepsy are not treated.2,3 Some of the most common barriers to accessing care are tied to traditional beliefs, stigmatization and discrimination, but others include insufficient specialized human resources, inadequate training of primary healthcare workers, and low availability of medicines. 

Sanofi has worked with the World Association of Social Psychiatry and the Institute of Epidemiology and Tropical Neurology since 2008 to promote access to healthcare for patients with mental disorders or epilepsy in LMICs. Through the Fight Against STigma (FAST) program, initiatives have been launched in more than 20 countries, including Africa, Asia, South America, and Eurasia.4,5

Developed with the local community in mind, these projects train health workers, raise public awareness, and educate patients and their families. “Thanks to these initiatives, it is estimated that more than 10,600 healthcare workers have been trained, over 3.1 million people have been reached through awareness and educational activities, and more than 132,000 people with mental illness or epilepsy have been diagnosed and/or treated,” said Dr. Luc Kuykens, Head of Sanofi Global Health Programs.5

While the number of patients with mental health problems in LMICs is particularly high, there is a growing awareness of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being worldwide. “And this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.1



Find out more about mental health in the developing world


Mental Health and Epilepsy: Tackling the Challenge of Access to Care


  1. Joint release by the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health – August 27, 2020. accessed on October 1, 2020.
  2. World Health Organization, Media Centre, Mental Disorders Fact sheet, November 28, 2019.
  3. World Health Organization, Media Centre, Epilepsy Fact sheet, June 20, 2019.
  4. Boston University School of Public Health, Dept of Global Health, Access Observatory. Access Observatory 2020 Report. (online) available from (accessed on October 1, 2020).
  5. Sanofi – Access to Healthcare – Mental disorders and epilepsy factsheet – March 2020 (accessed on October 1, 2020)

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