Skip to content

Panama, 6-8 October 2010: Regional Conference on Health Mental “20 years after the Caracas Declaration”


The Regional Conference on Mental Health was held in Panama City on 6-8 October within the framework of the celebration of a historical event in the field of mental health: 20 years of the Caracas Declaration and of the Initiative for the Re-structuring of psychiatric care in Latin America, launched by the Pan American Health Organization PAHO/WHO in 1990. 

In 2010 started the implementation of the Strategy and plan of action on mental health, adopted by the Directing Council of PAHO through Resolution CD49/11 on 2 October 2009. This event was another historical milestone for the Region: it reaffirmed mental health on the agenda of the governments of the Americas and strengthened the political and technical will to prioritize and continue to drive those change processes initiated two decades ago in Caracas

The Regional Conference, which coincided with the celebration of World Mental Health Day 2010, aimed to reflect on the achievements, obstacles, and challenges in the mental health field 20 years after the Caracas Declaration; share experiences and plan lines for future work. The opening ceremony was chaired by Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of PAHO, and by the Minister of Health of Panama, Dr. Franklin Vergara. It was followed by the projection of a video:“Mental Health, 20 years after the Caracas Declaration”. Then tribute was paid to Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, a world leader of mental health reform, who was also responsible for the keynote speech:“A brief tour of twenty years of global mental health. ”The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) was represented by its Secretary General, Vijay Ganju.

The technical paper: “Supporting the implementation of mental health policies in the Americas: an approach based on human rights. Findings, trends and strategic measures for public health action” was officially launched on the first day of work. The table was presided over by Dr Mirta Roses Periago and coordinated by Javier Vásquez, PAHO Regional Adviser on Human Rights. At the end the presentation, Dr. Itzhak Levav was honored for his intense dedication to the subject.

The technical paper on modalities for the practical implementation of PAHO’s Strategy and plan of action on mental health and WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) in the context of countries was discussed and approved at the Conference.

Experts, practitioners and representatives of health ministries and various organizations related to the mental health field, including users, families and workers in the area of human rights protection, participated in the event. There was a broad exchange of experiences among the participants, who also learnt about many innovative processes at local and national level in Latin America and the Caribbean. Certain issues, such as the problems related to the use of alcohol and other psychoactive substances, mental health protection in situations of disasters and suicide, were specifically addressed during the event. In addition, there was a panel of users of mental health services and family members.

The book Mental Health in the Community was also launched at the Conference. This is a publication of The Expanded Textbook and Instructional Materials Program (PALTEX), prepared by experts of PAHO’s Regional Project on Mental Health and Rehabilitation.


Last Updated on Friday, 22 October 2010 08:30

Regional Office of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: (202) 974-3000 Fax: 974-3663