‘Strengthening global efforts in addressing substance use and addictive behaviors: an update from WHO’

Dévora Kestel is a senior mental health policy specialist with more than twenty-five years of international experience in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, implementing and advising governments on national policies related to mental health systems. She is a strong advocate for the rights of people with mental health issues. Ms. Kestel obtained her MSc in Psychology from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Argentina and her MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. After completing her university studies in Argentina, she worked for ten years in developing and supervising community-based mental health services in Trieste, Italy. In 2000, she joined the WHO as a mental health officer, first in Kosovo and then in Albania, where she became the WHO Representative to Albania. In both countries, she worked closely with the Ministries of Health to help establish comprehensive community-based mental health systems. In 2007, Ms. Kestel joined the PAHO/WHO as the Sub-regional Mental Health Advisor for the English-speaking Caribbean Countries based in Barbados. In 2011, Ms. Kestel was appointed as the Regional Mental Health Advisor at the headquarters in Washington, DC, providing technical cooperation in the mental health field to the entire region. In 2015, she became the Unit Chief for Mental Health and Substance Use at PAHO/WHO. Over the years, Ms. Kestel has contributed to and co-authored publications in mental health. Since 2019, Ms Kestel has been the WHO Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use.

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