MSF workers in Bourj al-Barajneh. (Photo courtesy of MSF)
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In 2010, the Lebanon branch of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) implemented a mental health program in the Palestinian refugee camp of Burj al-Barajneh, in south Beirut.MSF's program offered psychiatric services, providing psychotropic drugs to patients as well as a variety of counseling options at no charge.The long-standing plan for the closure of the program entailed handing over the provision of mental health services to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and the local Burj al-Barajneh municipality.While funding was prioritized for those with more severe mental health issues, MSF's designation of services to both UNRWA- and municipality-funded health centers proved confusing to some patients who were unaware of their options.The study examining the project was welcomed by MSF, who used the results to reimagine its exit strategies. Just over a year ago, a new mental health care program was opened, albeit with slightly different goals. While the study was focused on only one MSF program, Yassin noted the importance of understanding its implications for all ongoing aid projects.For Yassin, the results of the study should be particularly pertinent to organizations tackling aspects of the Syrian refugee crisis.
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