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Project 1 Billion: International Congress of Ministers of Health for Mental Health and Post-Conflict Recovery (December 3-4, 2004 in Rome, Italy), brought together for the first time in history Ministers of Health from the world’s post-conflict countries to endorse a science-based, culturally effective and sustainable Mental Health Action Plan for post conflict recovery. The Project 1 Billion Book of Best Practices: Trauma and the Role of Mental Health in Post-Conflict Recovery was also produced by leading international authorities in health economic development, human rights and anthropology to serve as a guideline for governments, policy-makers and donors in post-conflict societies, presented at the meeting and disseminated globally. This NCS effort is consistent with HPRT’s long-term mission to provide multi-sectorial training on policy, clinical care, and evaluation to MOH and local health care practitioners working in highly traumatized nations. Click here for a downloadable overview of Project 1 Billion.

The Peter C. Alderman Masterclass Series: Training and dialogue on healing the wounds of mass violence provides a unique opportunity for local medical practitioners working in post-conflict societies throughout the world to join an international faculty with experitse in the care of traumatized persons. Masterclasses I, II, and III took place in September 2003, 2004, and 2005 in Orvieto, Italy. Participants included doctors from Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Srpska, Chile, Macedonia, Uganda, Spain, Italy and the United States.

Torture Survivors

HPRT is currently in the third year of a four-year grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide community-based clinical care for torture survivors residing in Massachusetts. HPRT clinicians are currently working on-site at Lynn Community Health Center,Springfield Southwest Community Health Center, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc. (CMAA), and the Vietnamese-American Civic Association, Inc. (VACA) in Dorchester, screening and evaluating patients and providing consultation/liaison to primary care providers. HPRT is also collaborating with asylum attorneys at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to arrange mental health evaluation and treatment for their clients. In the third and fourth year of this project, HPRT is working on a “Push-to-Cure” initiative: re-screening hundreds of torture survivors and ‘pushing’ forward with new and more effective treatment strategies. This entire initiative, nicknamed “IPC+”, represents the evolution of the Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic’s capacity to offer evaluation and treatment for individuals and families who have survived mass violence and torture.

U.S. Terrorism Recovery

In the wake of September 11, 2001, HPRT was recruited by the U.S. Government to provide technical assistance and support to health care practitioners caring for the survivors and families of victims of the World Trade Center attack. HPRT has developed a training curriculum for primary care providers, who are treating most of the patients affected by terrorism; components of this “Primary Care Provider Toolkit” are posted on this site, and are currently being distributed to over 70 local neighborhood health centers in Massachusetts and the New York metropolitan area. We are also working with colleagues at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture to develop a study of how primary care providers have responded to September 11th.

Bosnia Reconstruction

In 1995, HPRT’s training approach was adapted to help the medical and psychiatric practitioners caring for traumatized persons during the conflict in the Balkans. With the collaboration of local experts from Croatia and Bosnia, HPRT designed a curriculum and trained almost one hundred primary care practitioners from both countries. An extensive one-year training of Croatian and Bosnian mental health practitioners followed. Both trainings culminated in a regional meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in June 1998, where experts, practitioners, and policy makers assembled to discuss the lessons learned from HPRT’s training experiences in the region.

Over the past four years, HPRT and its Bosnian colleagues have established a training model that is being replicated throughout Bosnia and has been accepted by the region’s Stability Pact. This model includes a methodology, curriculum, and training approach that was successfully administered by HPRT to almost all primary care practitioners (n=105) in Middle Bosnia Canton. This Canton is famous for its intensity of local ethnic violence and devastation.

Concurrently with its activities in Middle Bosnia Canton, HPRT produced a curriculum on the care of traumatized persons that is now being integrated into Bosnia’s three medical schools (Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar), as well as its faculties of social work (Sarajevo), philosophy and psychology (Sarajevo), and the Franciscan Theological Seminary.

Cambodian Mental Health

In 1991, HPRT first trained a group of refugee survivors on the Thai-Cambodian border to provide their fellow refugees with mental health assistance. After the Cambodian elections in 1992, HPRT was invited by the Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Royal Cambodian Government to initiate a pilot community mental health project in Siem Reap Province, the site of the historic Angkor Wat temples. Following this invitation, HPRT developed the first community mental health clinic in Cambodia using Siem Reap’s primary health care system. Over the past 8 years, this clinic, staffed entirely by local Cambodian mental health professionals, has treated over 2,000 mentally ill patients. Recently, however, the clinic has faced serious cutbacks in financial resources, so HPRT hosted a fundraiser on its behalf this June. Please check back soon for a summary of what was raised and what is still needed.

After the Siem Reap clinic was established, the Cambodian Ministry of Health asked HPRT to train 100 primary care physicians throughout Cambodia’s 21 provinces. This effort transferred necessary mental health skills, knowledge, and behaviors to more than 10% of Cambodia’s primary health care system. For the first time, highly vulnerable groups traumatized by war and poverty, such as children/teenagers, widowed women, land-mine victims, and those plagued by chronic depression/PTSD, were able to receive culturally effective treatment within their local communities.

Kobe Earthquake

HPRT played a major role in evaluating and recommending psychosocial assistance to the resident populations affected by the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Immediately after the earthquake, which devastated the region and left more than 500,000 persons homeless and 5,000 persons dead, HPRT and its Japanese colleagues entered Kobe to provide assistance. An initial needs assessment led to the development of the first culturally valid screening instrument for Japanese earthquake survivors. For over six years, HPRT has provided high-level consultation to local and national policy makers in Japan. In 1997, the Mayor of Kobe and other Kobe officials participated in a major scientific and policy meeting hosted by HPRT and Waseda University that led to the Tokyo Guidelines for Trauma and Reconstruction.


Cambodian Women’s Oral History Project [Harvard Library]

The Cambodian Women’s Oral History Project was conducted in the 1980s by Dr. Mollica and Svang Tor. This project funded by the Ford Foundation was archived at Harvard’s Schlesinger Library for the History of Women in America. All the original recordings and transcripts in Khmer are available in the Schlesinger library. Recently, the Cambodian community has asked for this material to become readily available to the community. Cyrus Motakef revitalized the project by publishing a website housing the oral stories of ten women who lived through and experienced the Khmer Rouge. This website makes available to the general public the entire archive online. It reveals the courageous and wonderful resiliency of Cambodian women from childbirth, to growing up in Cambodia through the Pol Pot period to resettling in America. It is a rewarding experience to hear refugee women from princesses through farmers share their life experiences in great detail with devotion and respect. These women were asked “speak to history,” and they enthusiastically took up this challenge as revealed in these oral histories.

Click here to access the archive.