When it comes to mental and brain ill health, we in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) carry a disproportionately large burden of these disorders, compared to the global north. This is partly due to unique economic and sociocultural challenges we face, as well as biological variations we inherit.

When it comes to action on the ground, we still tend to use diagnostic tools and models of care developed in the global north, that are often not effective or appropriate, as they are agnostic of contextual differences. For instance, the global north systems are reliant on access to professionals (e.g. psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists,…etc.) and specialized facilities, that are a scarce commodity in the global south and not affordable by much of the population. Then there is the issue of lack of knowledge, leading to misunderstanding and high levels of stigma, and finally, we face the lack of governmental resources in part due the lack of policies prioritizing brain health and to low budgetary priority given the governments. 


Lucy Kamau

Research Assistant

Amna Siddiqui

Research Fellow


Wambui Karanja

Project Manager


In this insightful Q & A, we caught up with Dr Moses Kachama, our Global Mental Health (GMH) postdoctoral fellow, who has embarked on a unique journey split between the Harvard Medical School and Aga Khan University's Brain & Mind Institute. In this conversation, we delve into the fellow's anticipations, passions, and strategies for navigating the challenges of this transformative program.

The fellowship offers a unique experience split between Harvard Medical School and Aga Khan University's campuses. How do you anticipate cross-cultural exposure enhancing your mental health research approach?

The GMH Postdoctoral Fellowship provides an exciting cross-cultural research exposure that can significantly boost my research approach in several ways. Firstly, it provides a chance to discern the strengths and gaps within mental health research processes, enabling the adoption of best practices by comparing research conduct in two distinct settings. Secondly, this exposure creates a platform for interaction and learning from a broader spectrum of multidisciplinary experts in the GMH field, each with unique experiences in implementing mental health research in both high- and low-to-middle income countries. Lastly, it opens avenues for networking with peers and fellow scientists in the field, potentially leading to fruitful research collaborations in the near future.​


The Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC) has partnered with the Aga Khan University’s Brain & Mind Institute (BMI), to launch a two-part research programme for dementia. This collaboration aims to address the lack of diversity in dementia research, improve care, and increase access to innovative treatments across Africa.


In a monumental leap towards comprehending the intricacies of brain aging, the Aga Khan University's Brain & Mind Institute proudly announces a prestigious grant from Wellcome Leap Inc. This funding will help launch the BRAIN-RESILIENCE-KENYA program, which aims to understand how stress and resilience affect brain aging in African adults. The research uses a thorough approach, combining cultural assessments of lifelong stress and resilience with advanced statistical models and cutting-edge machine learning techniques.​​

In an effort to bolster mental well-being, the Brain & Mind Institute has introduced a comprehensive four-day Resilience Bootcamp, conducted in-person. This immersive workshop, carefully structured into distinct cohorts to accommodate varying schedules, saw participation from staff members at both the Aga Khan University Hospital and Aga Khan University.

The program is designed to provide participants with dynamic interactive exercises, collaborative brainstorming sessions, and essential skills for cultivating resilience in their day-to-day lives. Over the course of four sessions, attendees delved into pivotal topics, including Reflection & Self Development, Stress & Anxiety, Overthinking, Depression & Drug Use Disorder, and Self-Harm & Suicide.

The Resilience Bootcamp stands as a testament to the Brain & Mind Institute's dedication to fostering mental health awareness and equipping individuals with practical tools to navigate life's challenges. This initiative not only aims to enhance personal well-being but also contributes to creating a supportive and resilient community within the Aga Khan University network.

Reflecting on the impact of the bootcamp, Timothy Mukua, a Counselling Psychologist, shared, "The resilience bootcamp is a refreshing workshop. It encourages us to pause and introspect, identifying potential conflicts and seeking resolutions that accommodate diverse perspectives. Most importantly, it emphasizes the importance of not taking things personally." ​


Read more publications by clicking on the links below

  1. Patterns of suicide and self-harm in Pakistan: a retrospective descriptive study protocol
  2. The effects of height-for-age and HIV on cognitive development of school-aged children in Nairobi, Kenya: a structural equation modelling analysis
  3. Use of Mobile Technology to Identify Behavioral Mechanisms Linked to Mental Health Outcomes in Kenya: Protocol for Development and Validation of a Predictive Model
  4. Streamlining Global and Local Data on HIV: Underscoring Role of Institutions and Ethics in Improving Quality of HIV Research
  5. Religious, Cultural and Sex Influences on Advance Care Directives in Patients Admitted to a Tertiary Care Center In Kenya.
  6. An electronic health record system implementation in a resource limited country-lessons learned
  7. Stop-bang questionnaire for screening obstructive sleep apnea syndrome among hypertensive patients in Kenya

​In a world where conversations about mental health are often shrouded in silence and stigma, it is essential to create a platform where the darkness of suicide can be illuminated by compassion and hope. "Breaking the Silence: A Journey of Compassion and Hope" was an enlightening webinar that aimed to foster understanding about suicide, promote open discussions around mental health, and inspire collective efforts towards prevention.​

We were honored to host and commemorate the graduation of Cohort 2 fellows from our community partner, Nivishe Foundation's Mental Health Fellowship. This program equips young individuals with invaluable hands-on experience and guidance from seasoned mental health experts.​​

We hosted a book launch for a poetry compilation titled 'Elements of Us', penned by Sakina Taki, a Mental Health Trainer at the BMI. This literary work explores the profound connection between humanity and the elemental forces of Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, and Space, shedding light on their transformative influence, and how connecting to these elements brings a balance into our lives, physically, mentally and emotionally.​