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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 315-331

Psychosocial assistance and decentralised mental health care in post conflict Burundi 2000 - 2008

1 psychiatrist and a medical anthropologist. He is technical advisor for Mental Health with HealthNet TPO. From 2005–2007 he was based in Bujumbura, Burundi., Burundi
2 clinical psychologist. He has been involved in the programme described here since 2000 in various functions. Since 2005 he has beenthe country representative for HealthNet TPO in Burundi
3 medical anthropologist, is the general director of HealthNet TPO

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In 2000 the nongovernmental organisation (NGO) HealthNet TPO started mental health and psychosocial support services in Burundi, a country that has been severely affectedby civil war. Within a time frame of eight years, a wide range of mental health and psychosocial services were established, covering large parts of the country. During the programme period the NGO activities shifted from the delivery of direct services to capacity building activities aimed at embedding psychiatric services and psychosocial assistance withinexisting local health services and social systems. Among the strategies used were 1) training and supervision in mental health for government nurses and doctors in provincial hospitals, 2) trainingin psychosocial assistance and supervision of governmental social workers, and 3) building the capacity of psychosocial volunteers and local community based organisations. The handover of mental health and psychosocial services presented formidable challenges arising from difficulties for the state in sustaining mental health and psychosocial services within their systems, and from difficulties for users in contributing financially to the provision of services. Major lessons are that installing basic mental health within general care should be firmly rooted in a general health-system-strengthening approach and also that healing the social wounds of war should be embedded within an approach to strengthening ‘community systems’.

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