The former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan has called for the tackling of depression to be made a global priority, with mental health incorporated into a new UN Millennium Development Goal after the deadline for achieving the current goals passes in 2015.

“The failure to tackle depression undermines the fundamental human rights of millions and millions of people,” he said. “This begins with the denial of even the most basic levels of treatment and support.”

Annan said the collective failure to confront the condition, which affects almost 7% of the world’s population – 400 million people – was not a result of a lack of knowledge about treatment, but a failure to recognise the scale of the problem and put in place resources to overcome it.

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