Visits and meetings organized for experience sharing among South American countries got off to an enthusiastic start. Professionals from the health and legal fields of eight countries, along with services users and relatives of people with mental illnesses are participating in these exchanges. The common denominator is mutual support for a shift from the traditional focus on psychiatric hospitals towards community-based mental health systems. Full respect for the human rights of people with severe mental disorders is promoted through improved access to treatment and continuity of care.
In one instance, participants from Bolivia (Tarija; El Alto -La Paz; Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba) and Argentina (Río Negro province) organized trips to share the progress made in their respective countries and discuss the main challenges they face. A delegation of eight mental health workers from various teams from Río Negro visited Santa Cruz de la Sierra to collaborate on the development of community-based services.
These initiatives have a multicultural component and feature the integration of unconventional resources into health, teamwork, and the promotion of new laws to complement reform programs.