The Invisible Fallout of War and Poverty in Africa

More than 15 percent of the Rwandans suffer from depression. The alarming statistic was revealed yesterday by health ministry officials, who will during this year's World Mental Health Day focus on depression in a bid to raise public awareness about mental health issues.

Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the head of mental health division at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), said that this year's theme, "Depression: A Global Crisis" was chosen as new figures indicate more cases.

"Depression has now become a worrying health issue all over the world," she told The Rwanda Focus yesterday in Kigali.

Depression, a common mental disorder mostly characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration, has become cause of suicide for about 15% of the patients worldwide, explained Dr Achour Ait Mohand, a technical assistant on mental health at RBC.

He added that the rural survey conducted in 2000 revealed that the prevalence of depression to be between 15% and 25% in the country while a national survey on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2009 revealed a prevalence of 28.54% among Rwandans related with consequences of genocide, poverty and exposure to violence among others.

The medic noted that the people suffering from other non-communicable diseases might be at high risk of getting depression.

"We are realizing that depression is highly related with other chronic diseases," he pointed, adding that the illness is estimated at 27% among diabetes patients while it is at 29% among hypertension sufferers.

Therefore, the medical staff warned that the patients should be treated carefully by listening to what they have to say and encouraging them to consult as one way to minimize complications related to depression.

In this way, Dr Mohad mentioned that antidepressants may take up to six-eight weeks to have a full therapeutic effect, though the treatment should last for six to eight months.

Jean Damascene Iyamuremye, a medical staff under the ministry of health, said that there have been trainings of medical personnel up to district hospital level so that they can be able to provide some basic services about mental health.

However, a number of psychiatrists seem to be low, only six countrywide, although the ministry officials say there are plans to establish a university department training psychiatric doctors.

According the World Health Organization, depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. In addition, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.

Though the day is worldwide celebrated on October 10, the national official celebration is set on October 19 in Gisagara district.


via Rwanda Focus

The Invisible Fallout of War and Poverty in Africa

Mental health is a global challenge that could significantly impact on the health, social and even economic growth of developing countries, an advocate notes.