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Rwanda Mental health Survey underway with a particular part dedicated to genocide survivors

Since the 1st of August 2018, a survey on mental health among Rwandans (Rwanda Mental Health Survey) in general is being undertaken with a particular part dedicated to survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

 The survey is being conducted across the country in eight sectors from every District where one village is chosen in every sector. Interviewees are members of 30 households in each village aged between 14 and 65, the aim being to assess their mental health.

Particularly, as per the 11th resolution of the 14th national Dialogue Council (To conduct research with the aim to deeply understand all issues and consequences pertaining to trauma among Genocide survivors in order to address them), the survey has a particular part dedicated to investigate the prevalence mental disorders and co-morbidity   among the survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi, 24 years after it was stopped.  

In this particular part dedicated to survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi, 919 survivors aged 24 and above will be interviewed across the country depending on the number of survivors in every District as indicated by the survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in 2007.

 The Rwanda Mental Health Survey (RMHS) is the first government mandated nationwide study to investigate the prevalence mental disorders and co-morbidity within one study in the general adult population and genocide survivors in Rwanda.

The survey is expected to be completed by the end of June 2019. It is being conducted by the Ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), University of Rwanda (UR), National Commission for the Fighting Against Genocide (CNLG), World Health Organization (WHO), Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC), Johnson & Johnson, Partners in Health (PIH), the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) and Huye Isange Rehabilitation Center (HIRC).

So far, different researchers demonstrate that trauma-related issues are still common among Genocide survivors in Rwanda. A nation-wide survey conducted on a sample of 3,030 young Genocide survivors aged 8 to 19 years (One year after the 1994 Genocide) showed that the PTSD rate was 54% (Neugebauer et al., 2009). Among Rwandan widows who survived the 1994 Genocide PTSD prevalence found to be at 45.2% (Hagengimana et al., 2003). Ten years after the Genocide, among youth heads of household, major depression found to be at 53% (Boris et al. 2008). PTSD and depression were measured 11 years after the 1994 Genocide among HIV-infected Rwandan women aged over 15 years during the Genocide (including rape survivors) and were found to be 58% and 81%, respectively (Cohen and colleagues 2009). In 2009 the national prevalence of PTSD was estimated at 26.1% in the general population (Munyandamutsa et al., 2012). Such a prevalence rate imposes Rwandan institutions to consider PTSD and comorbid disorders as public health issue. Also, the reports of mental health interventions during Genocide commemoration suggest the increasing trauma among the young population born after the Genocide (MoH, 2016).