Signing of MOU for establishing a residential rehabilitation facility for the mentally ill in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

The signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Chief Secretary of Northern Province and the Country Director of IMHO-Lanka was held on 19th February 2020 at Chief Secretary’s Secretariat, Northern Province. K.Thevindram, Secretary of Ministry of Health, NP, Dr.A.Ketheswaran, Provincial Director of Health Services, NP, Dr.S.Sivayokan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Jaffna, Dr.E.Devanesan, Regional Director of Health Services, Jaffna and G.Krishnakumar, Planning & Programme Officer, Ministry of Health, NP also participated in this event.

The Mental Illnesses, when their impact is severe, may affect a person’s functional abilities and socialization skills. Medications have limited values in bringing back the pre-morbid functional abilities. Only a rehabilitation programme will help the individuals to restore the lost skills and abilities.

In this reality, it became mandatory to develop a mental health rehabilitation facility with minimum standards. This facility, nicked name as “Kudil”, functions as a residential mental health rehabilitation center in Jaffna since 2007. The objective of such a facility is to assist the individuals with mental illness to achieve their pre-morbid functioning level to a satisfactory level through a systematized process of rehabilitation. In “Kudil”, mentally ill clients would stay for rehabilitation purposes around 6 month period. Then they will be reunited with their family members.

All these years “Kudil” was functioning in rented outhouses, which are away from the hospital setting and situated within the community settings. Though these houses really helped the clients to simulate a home environment and a chance to mix with surrounding community, keeping these rented out houses for many years, or identifying and renting out new houses closer to the hospital has become a challenge now.

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At this situation, the International Medical Health Organization – Lanka agreed to fund Rs. 70 Million to construct building complex for this facility. This building complex will be constructed at 130 perches of donated land in Tellipalai division. This new facility will be felt homely by majority of the clients, simulating their home environment, spacious enough to carry out the rehabilitation activities, and at the same time, designed in such a way to meet the demands of the future generation’s aspirations and expectations.

The proposed facility will accommodate around 15 – 20 clients at a time in a semidetached houses, for 06 – 12 months. The rehabilitation process will be facilitated by 10 full time mental health staff and another 05 visiting staff.

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