19/04/2011 – Transnational cooperation in psychiatry

A new stage is underway in the process to reform the psychiatric system in Albania, with steps taken towards the deinstitutionalisation of mental health centres and the development of a treatment programme based on community mental health. The process, which has featured the collaboration of psychiatrists from Puglia and Sardinia, is part of the "Welfare and Health Cooperation in the Balkans" (WHCB) project, which in turn is included in the support framework programme for decentralised regional cooperation in the Balkans. An Albanian delegation (including the Ministry of Health’s head of mental health, Eljesa Harapej, and the director of the Valona psychiatric hospital, Antonela Agai, among others) recently travelled to Puglia, where it directly observed the activity of local mental health services. The deinstitutionalization of patients in psychiatric hospitals, the increase in knowledge and competence in the field of mental health and its promotion all figure high up on the list of priorities for the Albanian delegation, which gave its thanks to the Puglia region for the support provided to the country, where reform of mental health services began in 1996 and continued with the 2003-2005 action plan, through to the WHCB project, which as well as the Puglia and Sardinia regions, also includes Molise (region leader), Emilia Romagna, Sicily, Abruzzo and Liguria. It also emerged from the meeting that the course begun by Puglia in 2007 has continued with the creation of the first family centre. With help from the Sardinia region, two new family centres housing 24 former patients from the psychiatric hospital have been opened. A corporate course that includes the building of a photovoltaic greenhouse has also been launched, as has a training course featuring grants for 40 patients from the three family centres and users of the mental health community centre. All of the measures are aimed at reproducing the experience, allowing knowledge to be transferred to other areas.
Source: Vecchio sito IPA