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Call for the regulation of new Mental Health Law in Argentina

Within the framework of the First National Conference of the Association of Psychiatrists and Adherents for Human Rights that took place in Buenos Aires on August 6, health professionals, legislators, law officials, and family members of people  with mental illness advocated for the regulation and deepening of the National Mental Health Law implementation. The meeting was organized together with the Provisional Presidency of the Senate and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

Participants discussed the reform of mental health care systems and about psychiatry and health from the human rights perspective.

National Law 26.657 was enacted in November 2010 but has not yet been regulated. Armando Guemes, PAHO/WHO consultant on PHC based Health Services in Argentina, said the Pan American Health Organization will continue working in favor of the regulation and effective implementation of this Law, which will eventually impact on the entire Region.

According to Hugo Cohen, PAHO/WHO Subregional Advisor on Mental Health for South America, this law "will allow greater access to treatment and continuity of care for people with mental disorders, which represent the main burden of disease in the Region. About 75% of the patients do not have access to any care. The opening of services in general hospitals and health centers will reduce prejudice, fear and shame, still experienced by people with mental health conditions."

The Italian psychiatrist Franco Rotelli, current Chairman of the Standing Conference on Mental Health in the World -which comprises important figures from all continents-, participated during the first day of the meeting. He was declared Distinguished Visitor by the Legislature of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

Among other participants were: Vicente Galli (Argentine Society of Psychoanalysis), Graciela Natella (Coordinator of the National Community-Based Mental Health Services Program), Juan Silvestre Begnis (Advisor to the Ministry of Health), Stella Maris Martínez (Defensora General de la Nación - Ombudsman), and Leonardo Gorbacz (Cabinet of Ministers).


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