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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Peru

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28/05/2013 12:52:33

Lima

I clearly remember waking up and suddenly realizing that I was on a plane; It was the sunlight that woke me up. I looked out through the small window and all I could see was a puddle of clouds and little shy mountains trying to scratch the sky. I thought to myself, “wow that looks pretty amazing.” For a long time I kept staring through the tiny piece of glass. There was a higher mountain, it was rather distant, but looked pretty confident; I wondered if it could be Machu Picchu?

Yes, I was landing in Lima.

Dr David Jimemez (SUD President) and Elena Chavez (President of ALAMO)There she was, at the airport waiting for me. One of the most inspiring women I have ever met. Her name: Elena. We had already spent months emailing each other back and forth and speaking on the phone whilst planning the visit. Elena Founded Alamo – the first association of psychiatric patients in Peru – in 1999.

During this visit I had the opportunity to meet with the National Committee of Mental Health at the ministry of Health. I also visited different psychiatric hospitals and care homes.

Dr David Jimemez (SUD President) and Elena Chavez (President of ALAMO)

Peruvians?  It’s simple, they are amazing and optimistic.


Altogether, I spent ten days in Peru and got to meet incredible mental health professionals, amazing people and definitely left the country knowing that I will come back to see my friends.

I was amazed by how much can be done with very little. I visited a care home where only four people looked after thirty-two patients with learning disabilities and severe behavioural problems. Elena works very hard to keep ALAMO going despite the fact that they have recently lost funding. The ministry of health has also worked hard in regards to mental health. Dr Cristina Iguaguren (Medical Director of University Hospital Larco Herrera) is incredibly passionate about the implementation of Mental Health services and the endorsement of Human Rights.

We all worked really hard, on strategies and logistics, developing services to improve the quality of mental health care and ensure that human rights are not compromised at all.

Whilst visiting ALAMO I spent the entire day with patients, fathers, mothers, friends and people that somehow have been affected by mental health problems of all forms. I found it was the most rewarding day of the trip! We laughed, ate good food and reflected on the development of Psychiatric care in the country.

I left Peru full of energy and enthusiasm! Back in London, I am full of something hard to describe, perhaps pride? I was inspired by what I had seen and resolved to do what I could to share the expertise of colleagues in Europe with South American countries. At the same time I had become, in only 10 days, aware of the immense resources and resolve to change things that existed in Peru and how I wanted to help without imposing my own Euro-centric beliefs which have so often hindered the developing world. To this end I set up an organization called Sud-World which aims to do this with the help of like-minded colleagues.

Ministry of Health building
If you ask me how to describe Peruvians? It’s simple, they are amazing and optimistic. We are currently working hard together for better Mental Health Care, better services and increased promotion and prevention in Mental Health with a view to ultimately making sure that we provide high standards of care to everyone.
Local authority of Bellavista implementing mental health services for the local community
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About this blog

 

   Dr David Jimenez  

Dr David Jimenez is the Founder of the SUD-World Project. He has
worked for different non-governmental organisations including IFMSA, SANE, and LWRP amongst others. He has a special interest in Human Rights and International Mental Health Law. He is a Honorary Lecturer at London South Bank University. He works as a psychiatrist for South London and the Maudsley NHS Trust.