Travel report from the IACAPAP Dubai Congress December 2022

We met professionals and students from all over the world, the photo showing clinicians from Ethiopia and Ghana together with Professor Puura. (Photo by WAIMH/Minna Sorsa)

After lifting of the traveling restrictions caused by the pandemic, Executive Director Kaija Puura and Senior Administrator Minna Sorsa from the WAIMH Office together with our President Campbell Paul traveled to Dubai to attend and present in the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (IACAPAP) Congress. The main purpose of the trip was naturally to increase global awareness of Infant Mental Health among multidisciplinary professionals of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and to promote attendance to our own Dublin Congress in July 2023. Kaija Puura, Minna Sorsa and Campbell Paul together with Salisha Maharaj from South Africa presented in the WAIMH Invited Symposium.

Presenters at WAIMH Invited symposium at IACAPAP congress with Campbell Paul (Australia), Kaija Puura (Finland), Salisha Maharaj (South Africa) and Minna Sorsa (Finland). (Photo by WAIMH)

The WAIMH stand had a brilliant location in the Exhibition area, where also the poster stands were located. At our stand we had roll-ups giving information about WAIMH, about our Affiliates, of the Perspectives in Infant Mental Health, and WAIMH position papers. In addition, we had flyers of the Dublin Congress. It was heartwarming and exciting to see and hear how the interest toward Infant Mental Health has grown. Everyday there were several delegates who stopped by to talk about the situation in their own country and to ask how they could maybe become members of WAIMH and start an Affiliate of their own. In discussions with colleagues for example from Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya it also became apparent how creative Mental Health specialists are in establishing and maintaining services with very little resources.

The WAIMH Invited Symposium titled “Intervening early to support distressed parents and infants diverse clinical and cultural settings: infant mental health” was well attended and each presentation was followed with an inspired discussion. In the first presentation Kaija Puura talked about the prevalence of fear of childbirth in different countries, and described then an intervention, Imaginary Journey to Childbirth and Early Interaction. Minna Sorsa talked then about parents’ barriers to treatment even in countries with universal access to care. Salisha Maharaj talked about a case with a dysregulated little boy and his exhausted, depressed mother with a successful treatment and brighter future for the dyad. Campbell Paul ended the symposium with a poignant and touching presentation of why we need Infant Mental Health.

After the symposium Campbell, Kaija and Minna had a short meeting with the local WAIMH Affiliate members Ammar Albanna, Azhar Abu Ali, Hakam Khair and Hanan Derby. We discussed the activities of the Affiliate and how to further promote both research and clinical practice of Infant Mental Health in different parts of the world, and especially the development in the Emirates. Many interventions for families have been developed in western countries, and another challenge is the shortage of trained staff. Using evidence-based practices is therefore demanding yet can show progress when taking science-based practical steps.

Meeting with Arab Emirate WAIMH Affiliate. From left Ammar Albanna, Campbell Paul, Minna Sorsa, Kaija Puura, Hanan Derby, Azhar Abu Ali and Hakam Khair. (Photo by WAIMH)

One of the highlights of the trip was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between WAIMH and IACAPAP. The MOU will ensure further collaboration between the two organizations, and we will see our colleagues from IACAPAP presenting in an Invited Symposium in Dublin next summer.

Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between WAIMH and IACAPAP with Professor Daniel Fung and President Campbell Paul. (Photo by WAIMH/Minna Sorsa)


Kaija Puura, Finland

Minna Sorsa, Finland