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Newsroom Press release

Moldova Moves to Protect the Rights of People with Mental Disabilities

CHISINAU, Republic of Moldova—The government of Moldova today joined with mental health and children's advocates in paving the way to end an era of isolating people with mental disabilities in institutions.

The "Memorandum of Understanding for Deinstitutionalization and Community Living for People with Mental Disabilities" was signed today by the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child, the Open Society Mental Health Initiative, the Soros Foundation-Moldova, Hope and Homes for Children, and Keystone Human Services International. By signing the memorandum, the ministry and the nongovernmental organizations are committing today to a four-year collaboration that will end the further institutionalization of children with mental disabilities and establish models for community-based services that will replace the institutions in the long run.

Moldova, which has a large number of people with disabilities in residential institutions and a lack of alternative services, recently signed the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities. Today's memorandum will help Moldova make the provisions of the Convention a reality, say the groups.

"This project is the materialization in practice of Moldova's policies regarding people with disabilities. The project will enable people with disabilities to lead meaningful lives close to their families, friends and colleagues, and puts Moldova in a position to prepare for ratification of the convention", said Galina Balmos, Minister of Social Protection, Family and Child.

"We are pleased for the opportunity to work with the Republic of Moldova to significantly improve the quality of life of people with mental disabilities," said Judith Klein, Director of the Open Society Mental Health Initiative. "People with mental disabilities across Central and Eastern Europe are faced with stigma and discrimination which prevent them and their families from participating in society as equal citizens. We hope the example of Moldova will spur other governments to stop locking people away in large institutions and ensure their access to services at all levels in the community."

The project, which builds on local and international expertise and resources, will pilot the relocation of residents from the Home for Boys with Disabilities in Orhei to family-type living arrangements in the community, while developing the range of comprehensive support services in the community, mechanisms for quality assurance and monitoring, and the financial and operational frameworks needed to sustain this change in the future.

About the Partners

The Moldova Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child has the mandate to guarantee the realization of the provisions in the Constitution regarding the development, promotion and implementation of state policies of social protection, family and child in order to ensure the social security and increased living standards of the population.

The Open Society Mental Health Initiative (MHI) aims to ensure that people with mental disabilities (mental health problems and/or intellectual disabilities) are able to live in the community and to participate in society with full respect for their human rights. MHI is part of OSI's Public Health Program and works in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The Soros Foundation—Moldova (SFM) is a non-governmental, non-for-profit and non-political organization established in 1992 by the philanthropist George Soros to promote the development of an open society in Moldova through the implementation of a range of programs and activities that address specific areas of needs including media, cultural policy, legal reform, public administration, good governance, media, civil society, public health, and European integration.

Hope and Homes for Children is a registered charity working in Central and Eastern Europe and Africa to give hope to the poorest children in the world—those who are orphaned, abandoned or vulnerable—by enabling them to grow up within the love of a family and the security of a home, so that they can fulfill their potential.

Keystone Human Services International (KHSI) is a family of non-profit, non-governmental organizations working to create environments where all people can grow, exercise self-determination, and be participating, contributing and valued members of their communities. Through subsidiaries in Eastern Europe, including Moldova, KHSI advances the independence of people in vulnerable situations due to disability, institutionalization, poverty, abandonment and exploitation.

For more information, please contact:

Lucia Gavrilita, lucia.gavrilita@mpsfc.gov.md, +373 22 737572
Raluca Bunea, rbunea@osi.hu, +36 1 327 3100
Liliana Gherman, lgherman@soros.md, +373 22 270031
Charles Hooker, chooker@keystonehumanservices.org, +1 717 232 7509

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