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From the JAMA Network
August 4, 2015

Psychological Treatments for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Affected by Traumatic Events and Chronic Adversity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author Affiliations
  • 1United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland
JAMA. 2015;314(5):511-512. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8383

Millions of children globally live in poverty and face adversity. In sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS, conflict, and natural disasters have created large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). Until recently, children’s mental health conditions were not given very high priority in the global research and intervention agenda.1 This is changing now that there is greater recognition that adversity and chronic stress in childhood negatively affect health outcomes in later life.2 There is accumulating evidence supporting the use of psychological treatments for disorders related to traumatic experiences and acute stress.3 However, it is a challenge to integrate psychological interventions within existing national systems of care, which generally are overreliant on medication treatment alone.4 Health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa facilities have overwhelming workloads and have insufficient time to provide time-consuming psychological interventions.