RWANDA has only six psychiatrists yet the number of people with mental disorders is on the rise, health officials have said.
The revelation was made ahead of the Mental Health Day, which was globally marked last Friday.
Rwanda will mark the day on October 19 in Gisagara District.
Four of the psychiatrists are based at Ndera Neuropsychiatric Centre, which attends to around 200 patients with varying mental disorders.
The other two are deployed at Rwanda Military Hospital and University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).
According to Dr. Alfred Ngirababyeyi of the Ndera Neuropsychiatric Centre, mental health services have been scaled up in all district hospitals countrywide.
"Although there is a shortage of psychiatrists, people can access mental health services in all district hospitals. We have more than 70 psychiatric nurses at mental hospitals while each district hospitals each has at least two or three," he said.
He noted that the number of patients seeking mental health services was on the rise as a result of awareness campaigns that have helped reduce stigma.
The head of Mental Health Division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, said that plans are underway to boost the number of psychiatrists in the country. Presently, four medics are abroad pursuing specialised training in psychiatry.
"We have few psychiatrists. However, these only handle critical and complicated cases. This doesn't mean people aren't accessing mental health services as we also have other medics who can handle some of the cases," she pointed out.
She said mental health was a priority, adding that plans are underway to decentralise it.
Kayiteshonga noted that Rwanda was among the few countries that allocated funds towards mental health services.
Globally, close to 450 million people have mental health disorders with more than 75 percent of them in developing countries. According to the World Health Organisation, over 80 percent of people with serious mental disorders in the developing world do not receive any treatment.