Last summer, states of emergency were declared throughout Bosnia and Serbia when both countries experienced the heaviest rain and worst flooding in their history. International coverage was minimal, and didn’t adequately capture the extensive impact. In Bosnia, more than two dozen died, others were injured and countless livelihoods were destroyed. The flooding left many displaced, triggered anxieties, and increased the already high rate of joblessness in the country. Project Hope (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) partnered with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) to address the shortcomings of the health care system in Bosnia, which were further exacerbated by the flooding.
Current limitations in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s health care system include lack of communication between health care centers, lack of skills, and lack of standards that are uniform throughout the country. There are still thousands of people living as refugees and a large portion of the population remain under the United Nations High Commission of Refugees category of a refugee or displaced person. The war, and flooding resulted in increased numbers of psychological traumas and disorders. There’s currently no division between psychiatric and neurologic care centers. This often causes issues to arise between patients as well as a lack of specialization when it comes to treatment. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a rising disorder in the country, yet there is very little treatment or focus on the disease. Most of the treatment is done through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who will eventually leave Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Within Bosnia, it’s extremely taboo to discuss mental health. If you seek mental help, this information is made readily available to the rest of the community. Those who have the financial means for treatment prefer to travel somewhere like Zagreb, Croatia in hopes that confidential information will not be released to their community. However, this is an expensive trip that most are unable to afford.
In order to ameliorate some of the mental hardship facing the victims of the flood, Project Hope and UNICEF are conducting trainings throughout the country. The trainings are led by mental health professionals and provide teachers with a toolkit to use in their classroom. The toolkit teaches students about the varying degrees of flooding impact, and ways to process this information. The hope is that it will promote more acceptance when discussing mental and economic hardship in a country that is on the mend.