Kigali to get a mental health care centre

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 15 November, 2020 12:06:04PM
Kigali to get a mental health care centre

Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije has revealed plans to open a one-stop mental health care centre. The centre will add to existing efforts to address mental health issues by diagnosing and treating even the smallest and earliest signs of mental diseases.

Minister Ngamije made the announcement at the official launch of iAccelerator Phase 3, an competitive initiative started in 2016 by Imbuto Foundation with an aim to encourage young people to create innovative solutions to issues related to sexual and reproductive health.

At its third edition, iAccelerator has brought in its loop, issues of mental health and disability.

“We will soon set up the mental health care centre in Kigali which will help citizens to diagnose and treat early symptoms of mental illness. People with signs such as sleeplessness and stress and all other early warnings can go to the centre and get medical assistance as early as possible,” Ngamije said. 

Although systemic mental health care seems a nascent field, psychological problems in the country persevere. Nearly 1.2 million Rwandans (one in six adults) have depression and one in every two genocide survivors is diagnosed with the mental disease.

In addition, one in four Rwandans suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Depression and PTSD however are just two of many mental illnesses prevalent among Rwandans including trauma, anxiety, epilepsy, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

It is perceived that the Covid-19 pandemic will exacerbate the situation.

Experts say that the level of mental issues in Rwanda surpasses regional average which stands at 12 percent and attribute the elevation to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Official statistics show that 99 percent of survivors witnessed violence while 31 percent of women suffered rape or sexual assault.

Minister Ngamije noted that some young people have “auto-stigma” - a feeling of self that they are unworthy and unvalued. He said that his ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, plans to focus on schools to continue mental health awareness.

“To address mental health, teachers are key because young adolescents spend most of their time at school. We want to equip teachers with skills to detect early signs of mental health issues,” he said.

Speaking about young people, Dr Emmanuel Musoni, a psychiatrist at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) and consultant at Solid Minds mental health clinic noted that psychological disorder cases are a result of existing pressing issues.

“Part of mental illnesses originate from problems facing the youth like unwanted and teenage pregnancies,” said Musoni, suggesting that tackling the root causes would be at the same time solving mental issues.

Insufficiency of mental health professionals worsens the already dire situation. According to Musoni, there are a little above 2,000 clinical psychologists in Rwanda and about 1,000 health care workers trained on mental health.

Over the past two decades, however, Rwanda has marked impressive strides in the health sector and mental health has recently gained attention. In addition to the mental health policy, in 2018, the country partnered with the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies on a five-year venture to develop a model of affordable quality mental care.

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