Fondation d'Harcourt

The Projects

January 2014 - December 2018

Togo: Setting up Community Mental Health Care

The Context

Located in West Africa, between Ghana and Benin, Togo is ranked at number 159 of 185 countries in the 2012 Human Development Index (HDI). According to the latest estimates, morbidity linked to neurological and behavioral problems represents 12.3% of Togo’s total morbidity rate. Considering these figures, existing structures dedicated to treating mental health patients are derisory.

Mental health is being greatly overlooked by the national health authorities. In Togo, mental health services are not integrated into primary care. There are currently only 4 working psychiatric structures, all concentrated in the country’s capital, Lomé. There are only 3 active psychiatrists and they have to serve the mental health needs of a population of 6.6 million people.

The majority of doctors and decision-makers in the health sector are convinced that mental illnesses are most of the times incurable and, in any case, irresponsive to classical medical protocols. In such a context, legal provisions in the field of mental health are non-existent or old-fashioned and in need of revision.

The lack of mental health services in Togo is also due to the absence of qualified and specialized workers.  As the possibilities to train more specialists are reduced, there is an urgent need to train nurses to take proper care of mental health patients.

Moreover, the population’s attitude towards mental illnesses is still greatly rooted in traditional beliefs, both regarding their nature and their possible remedies. This belief system has led to inadequate, and many times harmful, treatment and stigmatization of people suffering from mental illnesses.

Our Project

5 years (January 2014 – December 2018)

This project aims to implement a holistic treatment of psychiatric patients in line with WHO’s recommended policy to integrate mental health units into primary health care.

The objective is to increase the offer and quality of mental health care through the provision of ambulatory care for patients, the delivery of training to health staff and the development of awareness-raising campaigns targeting the local population to eradicate the stigma and traditional beliefs.

The project is based at the Paul Louis-Renée Center in Lomé, capital of Togo. The center is made up of a primary health clinic and a neuropsychiatric ward for patients suffering from psychiatric or neurological illnesses. The primary health clinic counts with one consultation room, 2 intensive care rooms, and a laboratory. The mental health unit is composed of 2 consultation rooms, 2 intensive care rooms, and a pharmacy.

There is currently a 12-person team at the center, including a social worker, an assistant psychologist, a psychologist, a neurologist, 2 psychiatric nurses, 2 health workers and 2 medical assistants.

Our Partners

AKT – Aide Katihoé Togo
Institut des Sœurs Hospitaliers de Notre Dame de la Compassion

Our Activities

1. Treatment and ambulatory follow-up for patients with mental or neurological disorders, with additional support for social reinsertion

2. Education and training for psychiatric nurses.

3. Information and awareness campaigns regarding the effects of psychiatric conditions, therapeutic options and the reinsertion of patients into their communities. This awareness will facilitate patients’ reinsertion and will provide others suffering from mental-related illnesses with the necessary support from their communities that will enable them to reach out for proper treatment.

Our Results So Far

The direct beneficiaries of this project will be the patients and their families. Patients will have access to specialized treatment and primary care for their illnesses, while their families will benefit from the insertion or reinsertion of their family members to their living environment.

Nurses receiving psychiatric training will also benefit from this project, as will the collective community in Togo that will become aware of the origin, nature and treatments available for mental illnesses.

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