SHARE: South Asian Hub for Advocacy, Research and Education

Background

SHARE, led by Professor Atif Rahman, was originally set up in 2012 through funding by the National Institute of Mental Health as a Collaborative Hub with regional institutions and international partners to conduct and implement innovative health research in South Asia, where limited resource to undertake vital research was identified. It has since evolved into a more equal international partnership to foster research and capacity building to tackle a wide range of challenges to human development across the region and beyond.

SHARE, based at the University of Liverpool's Department of Psychological Sciences has partners in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and through affiliated programmes, in China and the Middle-East. SHARE works closely with established research and educational institutions in partner countries drawn from governmental as well as non-governmental sectors. Key NGO partners include the Human Development Research Foundation in Pakistan, the Institute for Research and Development in Sri Lanka and TPO-Nepal in Nepal. Major academic partners include Rawalpindi Medical University and Health Services Academy, Pakistan, the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences, India and Xi’an Jiaotong University, China.

Aims

SHARE aims to promote human development through capacity building and research. A flagship project has been the provision of low-cost psychological care to women with perinatal depression in settings where there are no mental health professionals. The programme, called ‘Thinking Healthy’, was developed with partners in Pakistan and aimed to train community health workers to deliver a sophisticated psychological intervention in a cost-effective way. The programme was evaluated in one of the largest randomised controlled trials of a psychological intervention in the developing world and found to be highly effective. SHARE further extended the scope of this programme by successfully training peers – women from the community with no previous education in healthcare – to successfully deliver the intervention in two South Asian sites, India and Pakistan.

SHARE has developed tailor-made courses to build research and teaching skills in teachers and researchers in the region. These courses address needs not fulfilled by conventional courses in higher education institutions. The Certificate in Medical Teaching (supported by the British Council) and the Psychosocial Research in the Humanitarian context course (supported by the National Institute of Mental Health) are two examples of highly successful courses.

Impact

The ‘Thinking Healthy’ programme not only benefitted women and their families, but also led to the development of a diverse skilled human workforce that can be deployed to scale-up such programmes in the region and beyond. The programme was adopted by the World Health Organisation in 2015 as their first ever evidence-based psychological intervention recommended for delivery by non-specialists in primary and secondary care settings. The programme is being disseminated globally to thousands of health care workers by the WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme. SHARE is working with partners in Pakistan and China to harness technology to make the Thinking Healthy programme even more widely available.

Our Certificate in Medical Teaching has reached over 300 medical teachers in Pakistan and hundreds more have registered to receive it as part of their continuous professional development. By training educational leaders of the future, we hope our impact will continue to multiply in the coming years.