MSF Instructed to close Mental Health Programs in South Darfur

At the instruction of the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission and the Federal Ministry of Health, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) must close the mental health counseling component of its activities in South Darfur.

As of the beginning of November, MSF is not permitted to accept any new patients into its counseling program in Kalma Camp, located outside the southern Darfur city of Nyala. On the grounds of medical responsibility, MSF has been given permission to continue treating current patients up until the end of the year, but will have to completely cease all counseling activities as of December 31, 2008. MSF is permitted to continue treating only minor psychiatric illnesses.

Since 2006, MSF’s trained staff has provided 9,380 individual counseling sessions for over 1,600 patients suffering from mental health problems. In the last year, 84 percent of MSF mental health patients reported either improvement or complete resolution of their symptoms upon discharge. MSF regrets that it will not be able to continue treating mental health patients and that it was unable to convince the authorities of the vital medical nature of this activity.

MSF continues to work in Darfur with international and national teams providing surgical care, nutritional assistance, and inpatient and outpatient primary, maternal, and child healthcare services.