13 March 2010

Rwanda: Trauma Cases Higher Among Women, Experts

Kigali — A group of mental health experts from the Ministry of Health recently noted that trauma cases across the country are higher among women, urging Rwandans to seek medical care once the signs occur.

The medics made the remarks during a press briefing that was held to highlight the prevalence of this problem and what should be done before and during the 16th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

According to Dr. Paul Mahoro, who together with Dr. Naasson Munyandamutsa conducted the research, results show that out of the 1,000 Rwandans that were taken as a sample group, 28.54 percent suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"Of this percentage, majority are women who constitute 58.92 percent compared to men (41.08 percent). It is therefore clear that this public health problem has the highest prevalence amongst females," Mahoro noted.

Yvonne Kayiteshonga another official in the Health Ministry therefore emphasized that based on the country's history, it is imperative to ensure that medical care reaches the traumatized people in the country.

"We are approaching the sixteenth commemoration of the genocide and this is when most cases of trauma come to light. We therefore call upon all Rwandans to show care and support to such people," she said.

Statistics show that 79 percent (majority) of PTSD cases are seen during the commemoration period, while only 21 percent are seen during the year.

"A number of people have also been trained to offer mental health services across the country especially at all health facilities so it is everyone's call to ensure that these services reach those who need them."

Mahoro also added that traumatized people are normally on tension, they hardly get sleep because memories of what happened to them in the past tend to become vivid at commemoration time, such people may also run or scream in fear.

Statistics from the survey show that of the traumatized cases, 88 percent are adults whose spouses or relatives were killed during the genocide.

Dr. Achor AIT Mohand, a psychiatrist who offers support to the National program on mental health also emphasized that PTSD may make some people very aggressive and dangerous to society.

"We are however doing whatever it takes to manage the cases through interventions that also coordinate with the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide. Last year alone we had over 300 cases of PTSD."

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