The World Federation for Mental Health highly concerned about the recent proposed developments in Egypt’s mental health legislation. The Federation’s mission is to point out any form of human rights abuse, malpractice or discrimination for users/consumers.
The proposed changes to the Egyptian mental health law concerning involuntary Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) may violate basic human rights principles and professional standards. The Madrid Declaration (1996) states: “The patient should be accepted as a partner by right in the therapeutic process. The psychiatrist-patient must be based on mutual trust and respect to allow the patient to make free and informed decisions”.
The United Nation’s Special Rapporteur (2013) on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment announced that states “should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions including electroshock and mind-altering drugs and the use of restraint”.
We are concerned by attempts to misrepresent ECT as something else by calling it “Brain Synchronization Treatment”. We would like to highlight the standards of informed consent as stressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “in order for consent to be valid, it should be given voluntarily and on the basis of complete information on the nature, consequences, benefits and risks of the treatment, on any harm associated with it and the availability of alternatives. Guaranteeing informed consents is a fundamental feature of respecting an individual’s autonomy, self-determination and human dignity”.
The Federation believes that excluding patients and families from the Mental Health Act is highly concerning; it defeats the principle of having a mental health legislation protecting the rights of people with mental illness.
We are calling the Egyptian Parliament to look and review licensing criteria for psychotherapist. This welcomed step should strengthen this cornerstone of mental health care. We urge you to review Egypt’s Mental Health Legislation so it would be another step forward in protecting the rights of people with mental disorders.
Prepared by the Human Rights Section of the WFMH – 22 December 2019