José Lumerman

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1996
Instituto Austral de Salud Mental


This profile was prepared when José Lumerman was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
There are five elements to medical doctor José Lumerman's approach to mental health care. Diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitative services are provided by a team of health service providers, under the leadership of a general physician who is specially trained for that responsibility, and the role of the psychiatrist is limited to the provision of training and consulting services. People with disorders receive needed treatment on an out-patient basis in their own communities, where they enjoy the support of family, friends, familiar surroundings and various community services. Patients receive "holistic care," responsive to both mental and physical ailments. As a consequence of the effective "rationing" of the scarce and costly services of psychiatrists and the avoidance of institutionalized care, costs are kept low and access to needed services is correspondingly enlarged. Moreover, built-in monitoring and assessment procedures assure that the quality of the services provided is maintained at an appropriately high level. Using a clinic that he established some years ago in city of Neuquén as his base of operations, Dr. Lumerman is training groups of general practitioners to serve as team leaders in various small towns and cities in Neuquén Province and elsewhere in Argentina. The clinic also serves as the locus for continued monitoring and assessment of the treatment provided by the general physicians and their teams, and for various social activities that are an integral part of the program's treatment and rehabilitation services.
Because of its simplicity, flexibility, affordability and reliance on resources that are readily available in most (or many) communities, José's approach can be easily replicated in other parts of Argentina and in other developing country settings. It is also highly relevant to needs that are currently poorly served in developed countries as well.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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