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Calamity-hit communities urged to build upon common experience

Special Correspondent

Role of public-private partnerships in restoration efforts underlined

— Photo: M. Vedhan

Making a point: (From left) J. Radhakrishnan, Additional Secretary (Finance), Tamil Nadu, with Calvin R. Piggott, First Secretary, Canadian High Commission, Sri Lanka; John Trainor, Director, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Nalini Pandalangat, Director, Mental Health Capacity Building in Sri Lanka and M. Ganesan, psychiatrist from Batticaloa, at a conference organised by MHCB and the Canadian International Development Agency in Chennai on Friday.

CHENNAI: Communities affected by natural calamities can lead each other to the road to restoration much faster if they network and build upon common experience, speakers at a national seminar on Mental Health Capacity Building in Sri Lanka said.

The seminar was organised by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian International Development Agency in Chennai on Friday.

Though Sri Lanka and Nagapattinam suffered similar damages due to tsunami, the latter benefited due to the proactive action taken on the ground by a group of officials who leveraged all available resources to aid in the restoration efforts, J. Radhakrishnan, Additional Secretary (Finance), who was the Nagapattinam Collector when the tsunami struck, said.

It was essential to have public-private partnerships in restoration efforts and it is a community’s self-reliance that will make all the difference, he added.

An early warning system should be developed, apart from regular mechanisms to meet the needs of disaster victims.

In Nagapattinam, a three-tier psycho-social support system, involving the village administrations, the primary health centres and the district administrations was constituted during the crisis. Individuals with special needs had to be given priority during rehabilitation efforts, he added.

Stakeholder participation was necessary in any restoration effort and the CAMH was the only programme assisted by the Canadian Government that dealt with mental health, psycho-social and gender issues, Calvin Piggott, First Secretary, Canadian High Commission, Sri Lanka, said.

The CAMH project involved multi-stakeholder participation and comprised training local resource persons to help communities in restoration efforts, according to Nalini Pandalangat, Director, Mental Health Capacity Building in Sri Lanka. The project had succeeded in bringing together affected communities from various parts of Sri Lanka, she added.

John Trainor, director, CAMH, and CAMH resource persons from various parts of Sri Lanka spoke.

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