Kigali, April 5, 2022. The Ministry of health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Mental Health Division organized a media briefing session on mental health interventions during the 28th commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi and raise awareness of the community on trauma symptoms that could be manifested during this period. The media briefing brought together different media houses at RBC office.
Dr. Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the Mental Health Division Manager in RBC said that mental health issues are more prevalent among Genocide survivors compared with the general population due to the consequences of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. This is why the Government of Rwanda has put more efforts on treatment and prevention of mental health disorders especially during this time of remembrance.
“Most of the mental health problems in Rwanda were caused by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, other causes of mental illness in the country include all forms of violence including domestic violence, violence against children and sexual violence. To address these issues, the Government of Rwanda has partnered with different stakeholders to ensure that mental health services are delivered to every citizen.” Said Dr. Kayiteshonga
Dr. Kayiteshonga disclosed that more than 90% of health facilities in Rwanda offer mental health services; RBC has community health workers at the village level who have been trained to provide care for people with trauma signs, if there is no improvement they will transfer them to the nearest health centres to be managed by mental health nurses or psychologists. The acute cases who are not recovering are referred to district hospitals and the third level is Referral Hospitals where cases will be handled by psychiatrists and their team.
Dr. Kayiteshonga added that more than 80,000 people have been trained and mobilized to manage trauma cases during this period of commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi across the country.
To respond to the problem of trauma during the period of Commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi and beyond this period, RBC in collaboration with stakeholders namely Genocide Survivors’ Students Association (AERG), Association of Former Students Survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi(GAERG), The Association of Genocide Widows Agahozo (AVEGA), Ibuka, Uyisenga n’Imanzi etc. have created therapeutic groups that are still operational to support people who have experienced trauma to recover.
Nsengiyaremye Fidèle, the Executive Secretary of the Association of Former Students Survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi (GAERG), said that they have formed family based support groups whereby in collaboration with RBC, are ready to help and continue follow up of those who will experience trauma and stress disorders during the period of Commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi.
“Since 2019, we have a partnership program with RBC and other stakeholders, including the Imbuto Foundation and other organizations with a bid to provide emotional support in terms of healing and resilience to Rwandan people and particularly to the Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. We have healing groups whereby AERG and GAERG provide healing support in what we call “families” to rebuild a sense of belonging as the real families have been decimated by the Genocide against Tutsi. It is obvious that when you do not have a family you are likely to experience mental disorders.” Said Mr. Nsengiyaremye
In previous years during the 27th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, the number of trauma cases were 2,628, of which 39% had minor problems and were immediately handled, while 61% continued to be supported in families and in the healing groups.