29 November 2012

Rwanda: Experts Discuss Mental Healthcare

The effect of mass violence in the Great Lakes region which led to many mental illnesses is the focus of this year's International Conference on Mental Health that opened in Kigali yesterday.

Throughout this conference, participants will deliberate on how to help those with mental problems.

Dr Agnes Binagwaho, the Minister of Health, told journalists that in Rwanda, many people started experiencing trauma from the effect of the 1959 massacres through the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

She, however, noted that the trauma from the mass violence is not a problem for Africa alone but the rest of the world.

"Rwanda experienced chronic trauma but through different strategies such as Gacaca, Unity and Reconciliation programmes and also provision of Mutuelle de Santé for people to easily access treatment, mental health in Rwanda is improving," she said.

At the conference, speakers from several countries which experienced mass violence will share experience on how they are managing to deal with the after effects with a focus on trauma and mental illnesses.

Binagwaho also noted that there are only six psychiatrists in Rwanda.

There are no statistics at the national level to show the state of mental illnesses.

Globally, close to 450 million people have mental health disorders with more than 75 per cent of them in developing countries.

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