|Meeting with WHO officials of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse|
|Thursday, 18 September 2008|
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General of SCOPP and Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights met with the WHO officials of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and discussed immediate mental health needs of Sri Lanka in relation to the conflict, and put forward some suggestions with regard to mental health and reconciliation He highlighted the fact that one of the key elements in advancing the peace process of Sri Lanka is confidence building between the parties through reconciliation and that dealing with the simpler mental health issues might assist with this. In this regard, Prof. Wijesinghe requested WHO assistance to initiate projects on reconciliation through the line Ministries, through assistance with therapy based on interactions.
Training for this purpose and providing space and opportunity for such interactions could serve an invaluable purpose. This was particularly true with regard to the reintegration of ex-combatants in the Eastern Province at present, and it would soon need to be extended to the Northern Province too.
Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Sustance Abuse, complimented the well established and highly developed health system in Sri Lanka. He said that Sri Lanka has become a model for many other developing countries in establishing a proper health system and commended the Government for investing heavily on the health sector. Identifying several gaps in the mental health sector of Sri Lanka, Dr. Saraceno said that WHO could provide expertise to develop projects to address the issues raised by Prof. Wijesinha. He noted that it would be better not to set up new institutions for the purpose, and concurred with Prof Wijesinha’s suggestion that existing infrastructure such as schools could be used for the purpose.
Dr Shekhar Saxena, Programme Manager in the Department, noted some of the initiatives already undertaken in this regard and how they could contribute to the Project. Dr Mark van Ommeren mentioned the effectiveness of what he termed soci-therapy, opportunities for victims of trauma simply to come together and talk and achieve reconciliation.
Combining this for young people with sports and cultural activities could make a great difference, so it was decided that the idea should be pursued, with both parties making contact with the WHO Director in Sri Lanka, Dr Borra.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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