Thematic working group 2: User participation in mental health services / Respect of human rights

  • Moderator: Mr Maximilien Zimmermann
  • Speakers:
    • Mr Barthélemy Koukoura (Togo)
    • Mr Patrick Razafindradimy (Madagascar)
  • Discussant: Mr Abdoulaye Sow (Guinea)

One of the successes of the Alma Ata conference (1978) was to widely disseminate the principle that the participation of people in the management and organisation of health services contributes to the quality of care. This principle has led, in Africa, to the creation of management and health committees, democratic structures allowing communities to be involved in decision-making at the level of health structures. While these initiatives have demonstrated their added value at different levels, there is undeniably still a long way to go to enable communities – and among them, people with mental health problems and their relatives – to be able to influence the organisation of care. There are indeed many challenges in involving users in the organisation of care systems. We will focus here on those that specifically concern mental health: how is the participation of these patients organised? What is its impact on themselves, on health workers and on the services? How is it organised and implemented and, last but not least, what challenges does it face? Are health/management committees an appropriate place to do this or must other places, other times be invented? We will see how in different countries local actors have found answers to deal with the stigmatisation of patients, the shame they too often feel and sometimes their exclusion from their community.