Honduras: humanitarian emergency at Comayagua Penitentiary

More than 350 people died and many suffered bone fractures and burns as a result of a fire at Comayagua Penitentiary ( Honduras) in February. At the request of the Ministry of Health, PAHO/WHO provided mental health technical support through Víctor Aparicio, Subregional Advisor on Mental Health, and Gaspar Da Costa, Panamanian psychiatrist specialized in humanitarian emergencies.

The Department of Comayagua’s mental health team organized psychosocial support groups for 400 survivors and for the emergency teams (firefighters and policemen). Thirty cases requiring individual care were referred to a psychiatrist that worked voluntarily. Likewise, a team of professionals from the Public Ministry gave psychosocial support to families in the process of identification and DNA sampling. Professionals and students of psychology from two universities also provided mental health care and psychosocial support. The National Mental Health Program acted as coordinator and created a Coordination Committee with the institutions that collaborated in the emergency.