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The Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of WHO visits Argentina



In his  first official visit to Argentina as Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of WHO, Benedetto Saraceno called for progress in reducing the current gap between the enormous number of people who suffer from mental disorders and the limited services available, which are found chiefly in psychiatric hospitals.

He stressed that innovative activities worldwide scientifically demonstrate the urgency of replacing that type of institution, making mental health policies effectively part of general health policies, permitting hospitalization in general hospitals, and providing care at the first level, in addition to adopting various modes of psychosocial rehabilitation. Dr. Saraceno mentioned that alcohol and depression are not just mental health problems but they are among the five leading general health problems and they are no more expensive to treat than other problems that affect people’s health if a community approach is adopted. He noted that Argentina has been carrying out some valuable activities to transform the system, which suggest a hopeful future for the country if they can be expanded nationwide.

During his brief visit, Benedetto Saraceno held a meeting with the Federal Board of Justice, Human Rights and Mental Health, where he was received by Eduardo Duhalde, Argentina’s Secretary of Human Rights. He also met with the highest authorities of the country’s Secretariat of Drugs (SE.DRO.NAR) and representatives of the Ministry of Health. He later gave a lecture to a large audience, invited by the Health Commission of the House of Deputies of the Congress of the Argentine Nation, the body that is promoting passage of the mental health bill for the country.

The distinguished visitor also met with members of the Board of Directors of the Psychiatrists’ Association of Argentina (APSA) and shared his thoughts with the national news media, including radio La Colifata, which is coordinated by people with mental illness.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 October 2009 23:15

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