A delegation from UNICEF has visited today Gaza Community Mental Health Programme for the purpose of supporting Child Protection and MHPSS Coordination as well as closely understanding GCMHP interventions and the challenges faced during providing the services.
The UNICEF delegation included Mr Giorgio Algeri, CP specialist, and Mr Wasfi Abu Zanona, CP officer who met with Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, GCMHP Director General; Qusi Abu Oda, head of projects unit; Dr sami Oweida, child psychiatrist; khitam Abu Shawareb, psychologist and Aysha Basyoni, project coordinator.
Mr Algeri started the meeting with a discussion about Gaza context, explaining, from his own experience as a specialist who is working on Child Protect in the Palestinian territories, how Gaza is different from the West Bank, though they are one country.
“I want to hear more about the context here in Gaza – look deeper into how people see the services because accountability is a vital part of how we support projects,” Mr Algeri asked during the discussion.
“I will talk in general about how we provide our services and the challenges we face, then I will give the floor to my colleagues who work directly with the beneficiaries to answer your question,” Dr Abu Jamei answered, explaining the interventions and services that the Programm provide, and the challenges faced in Gaza context in the shadow of the state of uncertainty and conflict.
He also talked about the ever increasing demand on mental health due to the economic challenges, wars and the recent events of the ‘Great March of Return’ which left a large number of affected people in the community.
In addition, Abu Jamei explained how the GCMHP MH diploma programme helped providing the specialists needed to be recruited for providing MH interventions as the local universities do not provide specialized mental health training.
On his part, Dr Oweida explained the process through which the GCMHP do the interventions and how the Programme is trying to reach out to people through the mobile clinics in community-based organizations across the Gaza Strip. Besides, he talked about the free counselling telephone line which was established in 2000 and the work done to encourage people to use it.
Talking about the challenges that the Programme face in providing the services, Mrs Abu Shawareb said that “we have gone a long way in raising the awareness of the community and fought the stigma attached to MH, however, much work is still to be done in order to overcome this problem.”
“We also need a more structured intervention by all the organizations that provide MH and psychosocial support. Besides, there should be cooperation between them so as to avoid duplication in providing the service,” she added.
Commenting on Mrs Abu Shawareb, Mr Abu Odei, emphasized the role of the UNICEF and the education and health cluster in supporting the Mental health intervention and ensuring that there is no duplication of the services in the targeted areas.
At the end of the meeting the delegation had a tour in GCMHP departments and was introduced to the services provided to the clients.