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El Salvador: Progress in mental health decentralization

Santa Ana, 14 June, 2011. The National Hospital San Juan de Dios de Santa Ana has opened the first Mental Health Unit established in a general hospital outside San Salvador’s metropolitan area, which marks an important milestone in mental health decentralization. It is intended to provide mental health care to users requesting it, in addition to addressing referrals from primary care centers in the western area, whose specialized community health teams (ECOS) have already included the community mental health component and psychological care.

The opening ceremony was chaired by the Health Minister, María Isabel Rodríguez; by the Representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO / WHO), José Ruales; by the Head of the Mental Health Program of the Ministry of Health (MINSAL), Carlos Escalante; and by the Director of the National Hospital San Juan de Dios, Ramón Antonio Abrego.

The Minister of Health laid emphasis on the fact that mental health is a central component of the healthcare reform that is taking place in the country. The Representative of the Pan American Health Organization reiterated PAHO's technical cooperation commitment to the strengthening of psychiatric reform. It should be noted that this project is within the framework of a cooperation project between Cuba, Guatemala and El Salvador that has enabled the exchange of experiences on decentralization of mental health services in the Region.

This Mental Health Unit is the second in the country created in a general hospital and, as mentioned above, the first outside  San Salvador’s metropolitan area. It will help establish mental health integrated networks at the national and interinstitutional levels.

For more information visit the website of our PAHO/WHO Representation in El Salvador.  

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