Access to medical services are a priority for the treatment of mental illness in Benin
For more than twenty years, the Saint-Camille-de-Lellis Association has been filling the gap created by a lack of care for people with mental illnesses in West Africa. Established in 1991 in Côte d’Ivoire, the charitable organization extended its services to Benin and then to Togo in 2004.
We would like to highlight the association’s ongoing commitment to making consultation centres and medication accessible both financially and geographically.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s why Grégoire Ahongbonon, founder of the Association, carries a metal chain in his luggage – a chain that was used to imprison a person… suffering from mental illness.
“In Africa, those suffering from mental illness are considered possessed, struck by the curse of the sorcerer, and everyone is afraid of them. It is therefore not uncommon for their families, who feel helpless, to resort to restraining them with chains around tree trunks,” sadly explains Mr. Ahongbonon.
To improve the quality of the medical services offered, the Saint-Camille Association is adding medical equipment for its Tokan clinic in Cotonou, Benin. These psychiatric services, offered at minimal costs, aim to offer humane alternatives to treatment that dispel the stigmatization of people with mental illness and the use of practices such as the chaining to trees, social exclusion and abandonment.
The main objective of the project is to increase the services offered in Benin and to provide free access to digital physical diagnostics. The most impoverished people will benefit from these services at minimal cost. Consequently, treatments will be more accurate thanks to a more precise diagnosis, with a view to the reintegration of patients into their community.
The project promotes the value of compassion by offering reduced-cost services to the most deprived families and free services to those suffering from mental illness under the care of the Saint-Camille Association Care Centre.
The Roncalli International Foundation provided $33,035 in support to the association for the acquisition of specialized equipment for hematology, ultrasound and endoscopy services. This assistance directly helps 2,000 patients per year and indirectly 2,000 families. This marks a continuous support to the Association since 2008!
This access to medical equipment will ensure excellent quality of care. It will also allow Saint-Camille to have a new source of income for the operation of its clinic since there is a scarcity of medical equipment in Benin and the clinic can now offer certain medical services to the general public at the rates charged in most health centres in the country.