"After two decades of conflict and fighting, this mental health situation analysis comes at the right time", says Mr Mark Bowden, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. "The human rights of the persons with mental disorders and of their families cannot be neglected.
We need to empower them to change the stigmatized image of mental illness, which is contaminated with images of violence, sin and laziness."
"Taking care of mental health patients shows the communities that mental illnesses can be treated effectively, without stigmatizing the patients" says Dr Marthe Everard, WHO Representative for Somalia.
"Mental health is still seen as an isolated sector but should be integrated into primary health care. Interventions are not too difficult or costly, but the area is rather lacking resources and infrastructure."
The Somali health authorities are committed to the cause. Last Monday, Dr. Aden Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Health for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), visited Habeeb Mental Health hospital in Mogadishu. Habeeb Hospital is one of the health facilities that implements WHO Somalia's Chain Free Initiative, which advocates for chain-free hospitals, community and environment across the country. The initiative, currently being implemented by three mental health facilities will expand this year to the remaining two others.