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Panama will host the Regional Conference on Mental Health

 With over 140 experts and professionals from the Americas in attendance, the "Regional Conference on Mental Health," chaired by Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, will take place in Panama City.

The meeting, taking place at the Hotel Panama from 6 to 8 October 2010, is being held twenty years after the "Declaration of Caracas," considered a historical event in mental health, where the countries commited to restructuring psychiatric care in Latin America with services and community practices, decentralized, comprehensive, continuous, and preventive.

According to Dr. Roses, the Declaration of Caracas of 1990 was a crucial 'seed' contributing to a new way of understanding people with mental disorders and to the application of the human rights approach in psychiatric services.

During the inauguration, "Mental health, 20 years after the Declaration of Caracas", a video that shows what has been achieved during the last twenty years, noting that Panama is a country that has transformed its attention to mental health  along the lines of the community model, will be screened.

Participants of the "Regional Conference for Mental Health" will include professionals and specialists from the different ministries of health, from organizations related to mental health and the protection of human rights, academic institutions, and recipients of mental health services and their families, who will analyze actual achievements and challenges contained in PAHO's Strategy and Plan of Action on Mental Health, adopted in 2009.

Two decades of results show the good will and the efforts of governments to promote mental health care reform. Currently, 80% of the countries of the Americas have national mental health programs, although some have major difficulties in its implementation and to adequately respond to demand. The proportion of patients who receive no treatment surpasses 60% in some countries.

The agenda includes addressing WHO's recent "mental health Global Action Programme," which is aimed at strengthening primary health care and improve human resource capabilities, especially those who work with the most vulnerable populations.

Other prominent participants at the event are Drs. René González and Izhak Levav, drivers of the Declaration of Caracas; Dr. Caldas de Almeida, who sponsored the Brasilia Declaration (2005); and Drs. Jorge Rodriguez, responsible for PAHO/WHO's Mental Health Program, and Benedetto Saraceno, former director of WHO's Department of Mental Health.


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