Improving mental health care in the Great Lakes Region
2017 - 2024
Quality mental health care in the Great Lakes Region of Africa is insufficient and many times inadequate considering the needs of survivors of conflict and torture. The challenges faced by Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Tanzania are similar, including lack of adequate infrastructures, shortage of qualified mental health providers and stigma. Following the 1994 genocide Rwanda recognized the importance to invest in mental health as a priority. Today, the Caraes Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Ndera stands as the national referral hospital and is an example for other countries in the Great Lakes Region.
Fracarita Belgium, present in the region for decades, decided to set up a regional network for mental health to provide adequate care and treatment. Five private regional psychiatric hospitals make up this network: the Caraes Neuropsychiatric Hospital (Rwanda), the Neuropsychiatric Centre in Bujumbura (Burundi), the Tulizo Letu Health Center (Goma, DRC), the Psychiatric center in Bukavu (DRC) and the Saint Cornelius Mental Health Center in Kasaka (Tanzania).
This project aims at improving the quality of professional mental health care services in the whole region by enhancing the competencies of personnel, particularly nurses and pharmacists, in the aforementioned hospitals and health centers. Carefully selected nurses from each center are trained as coaches at the Caraes Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Ndera by Rwandan and international mental health experts. Two 10-day training sessions are organized every year, after which the specialized nurse, acting as a full-time coach, provides on-the-job-training to other nurses. In order to build competencies among pharmacists within the network’s hospitals, annual regional training session are carried out by an international expert pharmacist who also provides on-the-job supervision.
The coaching system increases nursing knowledge, skills and attitude competencies, and the system of supervision- and intervision-on-the-job (peer-supervision) ensures quality of care among trained staff. These actions ultimately aim to improve the quality of life of mental health patients by offering the highest possible quality of mental health care.
As an essential component of the project, existing instruments to assess the quality of the mental health care provided will be updated and evaluated so that individual nurse’s performance and the quality of life of residential patients are monitored.
Photographer: Joost Van Heesvelde
Activities and beneficiaries
regional mental health hospitals involved
nurses (regional coaches) and 5 pharmacists trained
hospital staff increased their competencies
residential mental health patients improved their quality of life