Fondation Pierre Fabre

Sending monthly written messages to patients suffering from mental illnesses under treatment to remind them of their day of visit to the health centres

Main beneficiary country:

About the sponsor

Association saint camille

The Association Saint-Camille de Lellis was founded in 1994 by Grégoire Ahongbonon to provide residential care to people suffering from mental illness in West Africa. First established in Côte d'Ivoire in 1991, the association then expanded to Benin in 2004. It is now also open in Burkina Faso and in Togo, where the reception centre opened its doors at the end of 2016.

In almost 25 years, the Saint-Camille centres have put 60,000 men and women back on their feet, and they have done this without any governmental financial aid. It fights against all forms of social exclusion, by firstly targeting those suffering from mental illnesses.  It welcomes people wandering the streets, chained up or confined in the woods in villages or towns, as well as any sick person accompanied by a relative. In 2005, Saint-Camille had 12 centres in Côte d'Ivoire and Benin.  In 2015, there were centres in Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, in Togo and Burkina Faso. 

Sector: Health: Healthcare professionals and structures

Country of origin: Benin

Contact the sponsor

The organisation has:

Full-Time Equivalents
Service provider

Initiative overview

Healthcare themes targeted

  • Mental health

Stage of development:

  • Pilot project/testing/trials

Area where initiative is utilised

  • National (in one country only)

Initiative start date

  • 12/16/2019


Financing method

  • Private (private investors, crowdfunding, philanthropy, etc.)

Economic model(s)

  • Donations

About the initiative

Mental illness is a chronic disease that, on the one hand, requires long-term care and, on the other hand, is still highly stigmatized.  In the West of Africa, people suffering from mental illnesses are still often considered as possessed by a demon or bewitched.  Those around them keep their distance in the face of these unexplained behaviours, abandoning or marginalising those who are in fact in need of care.

Patients are firstly welcomed in the shelters, fundamental link of the Saint-Camille to regain their dignity and freedom. The association diagnoses the disorder or disease and then treats patients with medication. According to their personal development, people are stabilised and then directed to a rehabilitation centre to learn a skill or to carry out their work, and thus begin their reintegration into their home communities. There are also relay centres where medication is dropped off and provided to patients.  They have been created to overcome the obstacle of accessibility to medication, which is distance.  In Benin, there are more than twenty relay centres that cover the national territory.

If care is interrupted, the patient can relapse and symptoms can reappear.  To alleviate this problem, the ASCA Benin initiative has set up a system that sends patients a monthly reminder of the day of their visit and informs their relatives on how to behave in light of the various symptoms related to this disease. This system can considerably reduce relapses and improve the reintegration of patients in society. In fact, this initiative makes it possible to reduce the significant relapses related to mental illness and helps to remove the taboo associated with this illness in our society.

Fields of application:

Information, education and communication for behaviour change (IEC) - Patient monitoring and medical data

Target audience

  • Entire population

Initiative objectives

  • Decreased morbidity
  • Improved treatment

Key figures

5000 Number of beneficiaries since launch

100 Number of users per Month

Materials used

  • Cellular (mobile) phone
  • Smartphone

Technologies used

  • Mobile telecommunications (without data connection)

Offline use


Open Source


Open Data


Independent evaluation