A study carried out by Dr Nasson Munyandamutsa, a Rwandan psychiatrist and his team, has revealed that close to one third of the Rwandan population (ranging from 24 to 28 percent) suffer from various levels of trauma.
This was disclosed during a two-day conference on mental health, dubbed “trauma and its aftermath”, which was presided over by the Minister of Health, Agnes Binangwaho.
Munyandamutsa told the meeting that trauma has for long been ignored in many countries. He, however, noted that Rwanda had given it due attention.
The country has many trauma cases as a result of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Whereas trauma hasn’t been given enough consideration in other countries, Rwanda has tried to focus on it and find solutions,” he said.
The doctor noted that there are few professionals in Rwanda with expertise in the field but added that their number is growing.
Munyandamutsa disclosed that a number of medics have been sent abroad for further studies in psychology.
“Every year, we have at least 20 psychologists who complete their training in this field,” Munyendamutsa said.
The Director of Psychosocial Consultation Centre, Yvonne Kayiteshonga, stated that Rwanda has around 500 psychologists and five psychiatrists.
Kayiteshonga pointed out that there is at least one or two psychiatric nurse in every district hospital and in some health centres.
She noted that they are putting more effort in training more psychology-based health workers in order to add to the number of professionals that can handle people with trauma related illnesses.
Minister Binagwaho said that the consequences of trauma are continual but there is need to learn how to deal with it.
“The aftermath of trauma never ends but we just need to learn to deal with it in order to come up with viable solutions to overcome this illness,” said the Minister.
She noted that Rwanda is successful in overcoming trauma due to the political will to address the problem and its causes.