Suspension withdrawn, but MSF instructed to close mental health programmes in South Darfur, Sudan

At the instruction of the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission and the Federal Ministry of Health, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has to close the mental health counseling component of its activities in South Darfur, Sudan. As of the beginning of November, MSF cannot accept any new patients into its counseling programme in Kalma Camp. On the grounds of medical responsibility, MSF has been given permission to continue treating current patients up until the end of the year, but will have to completely cease all counseling activities as of December 31, 2008.

MSF is permitted to continue treating only minor psychiatric illnesses. Since 2006, MSF's trained staff has provided 9380 individual counseling sessions for over 1600 patients suffering from mental health problems. In the last year, 84 percent of MSF mental health patients reported either improvement or complete resolution of their symptoms upon discharge from treatment.

MSF regrets the fact that we will not be able to continue treating mental health patients and that we were unable to convince the authorities of the vital medical nature of this activity. With the final signatures on the 2008 Technical Agreement, MSF will be facilitated with all staff travel permits, stay permits, work permits, and all medical/logistical cargoes needed to ensure the smooth functioning of programmes and the continuation of quality medical services up until the end of the year.

New agreements will need to be negotiated for 2009. MSF continues to work in Darfur with international and national teams offering surgical care and run inpatient and outpatient departments, with primary health, mother and child care and nutritional assistance provided.