BUJUMBURA October 23rd (ABP) – The representative of the Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr Jean de Dieu Havyarimana opened on October 19, 2023, two-day open house activities, as part of the celebration of World Mental Health Day 2023 edition. Those activities are organized by the neuropsychiatric center of Kamenge (CNPK), in collaboration with the neuro-psychiatric center of Ngozi and Gitega, with a view to raising awareness in the Burundian community on the problems of Mental Health.
In his speech, Dr Havyarimana indicated that the world celebrates World Mental Health Day on October 10 each year and that month is dedicated to mental health and the fight against cancer, before specifying that the celebration of that day in Burundi is planned for October 31 in Rumonge. He called on the Burundian population to fight against that disease and anything that can cause it. He also called on mentally ill people and their sick guards to consult doctors, instead of resorting to witchcraft.
The general director of the CNPK, Marcus Ciza indicated that the CNPK as a hospital offering mental health services chose to celebrate two open days under the theme of the world day dedicated to mental health: “mental health is a right universal human”. For that, the CNPK gave everyone the chance to do the free consultation during those two days because many mentally ill people have financial problems.
He specified that that hospital was created in 1981 by Brothers of Charity in collaboration with the government of Burundi, through the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS to promote general medicine with a view to promoting care of mental health.
Mr. Ciza also noted that the CNPK has a capacity of 179 beds. Currently, 157 patients are hospitalized, including 7 in emergencies, 36 men in ward A, 44 men in ward B, 55 women, as well as 15 patients in the improved ward. He added that sometimes the number of patients exceeds the capacity of the CNPK.
He took the opportunity to inform about the services offered at CNPK. He cited medical and psychiatric consultation, radiography, psychology, social and pastoral, occupational therapy and the laboratory.
As part of the decentralization of mental care, Mr. Ciza indicated that the CNPK has created branches which are in Ngozi, Gitega and Cibitoke, to facilitate patients coming from the interior of the country and reduce the number of patients who are recourse to the CNPK.
Speaking of the challenges, he cited the shortage of nursing staff specialized in mental health, insufficient revenue to cover the needs of the center and many indigent patients who do not have the means to continue treatment. He also pointed out that the CNPK does not have the means to manage insolvent patients and that the increase in payroll is not proportional to that of revenue, as well as the absence of mental health legislation, he declared.
According to Dr Dative Nimubona, psychiatrist at CNPK, the causes of that illness are linked to psychosocial experience, accidents, heredity, displacement, disappointment and academic failure. She stressed that that hospital has a problem welcoming unaccompanied people, and asked the nurses to always be next to their patients to help the doctors. She also asked for an increase in the number of nursing staff, because a mentally ill person is difficult to manage.
Mr. Ciza took that opportunity to thank the government of Burundi through the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS for its multifaceted support, notably the exemption of medicines and other construction materials from the current administrative block, without forgetting the Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender, for paying the bills of indigent patients. It should be noted that there are more women who have mental health problems than men, which is why another place was needed reserved for them to facilitate supervision.