1.5 Mln Bosnians still battling depression

SARAJEVO, Aug 27, 2000 -- (AFP) Half the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina are still battling depression five years after the country's bloody civil war ended, it was reported here Saturday.

According to medical specialists quoted by Sarajevo's daily Vecernje Novine, an "army" of 1.5 million people in the country were still gripped by symptoms of depression, showing no improvement in figures released in 1994 in the midst of the 1992-95 war.

"At this point nobody can tell how many of these people will become chronic mental patients," warned Ismet Ceric, one of the country's most eminent doctors of neuropsychiatry, who practices in Sarajevo.

"But if only one percent of this number continues to suffer from some of the most serious mental disorders we would have 17,500 needing patients," he said, saying no "usual psychiatric and medical approach" could relieve the burden.

Ceric said professors from the University of Harvard, who are expected to start lecturing on trauma in Sarejevo in September, could help bring new ideas to medical practitioners.

However, he said, the only real help for the "army" of sufferers would be to solve unemployment and social injustice, which he said remained a major contributor to peoples' worries.

Unofficial figures put Bosnia-Hercegovina's population at three million. According to the latest census in 1991, the pre-war population was 4.3 million, of whom 1.1 million were displaced and 200,000 killed during the war.

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