A community based mental health care programme has been expanded to the Eastern Province to scale up access to treatment that will be conducted by community health workers and nurses at community level.
The Mentorship and Enhanced Supervision (MESH) model is intended to address Severe Mental Disorders in Rwanda.
It will involve intensive training for 72 nurses from Kayonza and Kirehe district health centers and hospitals. The nurses will in return train community workers to disseminate primary treatment, data collection and follow up on cases.
In other words, they will support decentralization of mental health services through early identification of cases in society, providing psychotherapy and medication.
“At least two nurses at each health center, who have been having general skills on mental health and trauma counseling will now undergo an intensive medical training to treat primary cases of mental health disorders,” said Dr. Christian Rusangwa, the Chief Medical Officer for Chronic Diseases at Partners in Health (PIH).
The programme co-funded by Ministry of Health and PIH was launched in Kayonza district this December 19, 2018,
In the scale up of the programme which started in 2012 with Burera, Musanze districts of Nothern province, the government will provide infrastructure and human resource while PIH will implement the project with Johnson & Johnson funding of over $ 1.5 million in the next three years.
After this period, the government will take over the program to the remaining districts of the country, according Dr. Rusangwa.
The program is intended to bridge the gap in mental health specialists. There are currently only 12 specialists and it takes 10 years to train one.
The trained nurses will train 45,000 community health workers across the country who have also had earlier training in counseling and handling trauma cases.
There are no official figures on mental health but Rwanda plans to soon release findings on the state of mental health. The research was conducted in August.
However, Dr. Emmanuel Musoni Rwililiza, a mental health specialist told KT Press, that working figures show that at least two of the ten Rwandans have a problem of mental health in general while 27% have traumatic issues affecting their lives.
Experts say that while mental health may not be seen as a killer health problem, persons with mental disabilities don’t last for more than 20 years, but can be treated if handled as early as possible.