The Ministry of Health has achieved tremendous headway in recent years in the battle against mental health illnesses, which is a major health challenge in the nation.

 The Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) believes that they suffer continuously extreme levels of trauma and psychosocial disorders. The majority of these are results of the Genocide the Tutsis witnessed in 1994.

According to the Director of ADEPR-Nyamata District Hospital, Dr. William Rutagengwa, problems with mental health have a severe influence on social cohesiveness and on the ability to maintain sustainable livelihoods.

Despite the fact that there are obstacles to access in terms of infrastructure, human resources, and facilities, he claims that there is still an issue of poor adoption of mental health treatments in Rwanda, despite the fact that the country has a clear policy on treating mental health.

Attending to patients are members of the health care staff. In Bugesera, during the opening of the mobile clinic, individuals were given screenings to determine whether or not they suffered from any mental health conditions. 

According to him, this lack of mental health care service is partially caused by a lack of awareness on accessible services, fear of being victimized in society after one has visited a mental health institution, and long-distance travel to reach the available centers.

According to Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist in the Rubavu District, many individuals in society still relate mental health difficulties with witchcraft because they do not have the appropriate knowledge.

He goes on to say that this is a clear sign that many people lack the knowledge that enables them to realize that mental illness is a disorder that needs to be handled, just like other health issues.

“Lack of sufficient information also leads to stigma, where the victims and people around them avoid getting treatment for fear of what society would say or think of them,” he adds. “This is a significant barrier as far as tackling mental health is concerned.”

According to the findings of the Rwanda Mental Health Survey (RMHS), which was conducted by RBC and published in 2018, it was found that the prevalence of several mental disorders in Rwanda is higher than the average prevalence seen across the world. This finding was especially prevalent among survivors of the Genocide.

The RMHS reports that knowledge of the available mental health services is at 61.7%, but the actual use rate is just 5.3%.

The poll also found that the situation of mental health in Rwanda revealed that fewer than two percent of the population had access to mental health treatments, creating a big gap in reaching out to those who need the services.

Mobile clinics

In order to combat this issue, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Interpeace, an international organization dedicated to the promotion of peace, has begun operating mobile clinics for mental health in the Bugesera District of the Eastern Province. These clinics are open to the general public and provide medical services. The mobile clinic plans to spread awareness across the whole district via a series of upcoming events.

Officials claim that this is a forward-thinking and one-of-a-kind solution that will contribute to the realization of Rwanda’s Development Vision 2050 and the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), both of which regard the health and happiness of the country’s population as a top national priority.

According to Frank Kayitare, the Great Lakes Regional Representative of Interpeace, the service has a vehicle that will drive to villages around the Bugesera Region. This vehicle was given over to ADEPR-church in the district.

Tablets, office furniture, stationery, and medical equipment for mental health are just some of the different types of equipment that are available.

“Its primary objective is to improve the quality of mental health services offered at all of Bugesera District’s health centers.” “The clinic will undertake frequent checks of communities, health centers, and public locations such as marketplaces and referrals that are situated in the district,” explains Kayitare.

Additionally, it will assist specialists in the mental health field in carrying out clinical trials and providing patients with treatment in the comfort of their own homes.

In addition, the mobile clinic has two passenger seats, an internet connection, one folding bed that may be used in an emergency (as an ambulance), and two huge weatherproof tent extensions that are linked to the body of the vehicle.

However, according to authorities, getting access to treatment for mental illness is still difficult since there are capacity limitations and people are reluctant to use the programs that are already offered.

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