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Three years after the devastating civil war ended, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has handed over its last remaining activities in Sri Lanka. In Mullaitivu hospital, a team had been assisting in the provision of emergency care, surgery and gynecological and obstetric services. Staff also held weekly mobile clinics at five sites, providing access to health services for isolated communities. These activities came to an end in June.
Mental Health Services Handed Over
Physical scars may have healed, but the mental health of those traumatized by war and distressed by resettlement still needs to be addressed. MSF mental health staff worked at the main district hospitals in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi as well as at other sites in the districts. Mobile teams travelled to more distant villages to offer care to people unable to travel.
MSF also developed community-based psychosocial services in schools. Before leaving Kilinochchi, staff provided training to 10 psychological support officers and 10 field assistants. The Ministry of Health has committed to continuing the development of community-based psychosocial services. In late 2011, the ministry and the Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists launched a media campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues and to increase access to expert medical care. MSF’s program in Mullaitivu has been handed over to international non-governmental organization World Vision, which has a long-term operational plan for the north of the country, while a local organization has taken on activities in Kilinochchi.
At the end of 2012, MSF had 73 staff in Sri Lanka. MSF has worked in the country since 1986.