She made the call yesterday as she officiated the opening of the two-day National Trauma Symposium that brings together organizations and individuals working in the field of mental health, as well as beneficiaries of existing initiatives in Kigali.
The symposium is part of events marking the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and was themed: “Embracing trauma management from grassroots initiatives to institutional interventions”.
It aimed at giving stakeholders a platform to reflect upon, assess and document best practices, lessons learned and challenges faced during the past 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Mrs. Jeannette Kagame said that trauma management should focus on unique aspects of the country’s history.
“Genocide against Tutsi was committed in a specific way. That is why the wounds and trauma, sustained as a consequence, should be treated as special cases supported by knowledge and research,” she said.
The First Lady said that rebuilding a nation whose people were facing different types of mental illnesses as a result of their horrific experiences during the Genocide against the Tutsi was challenging, but it had been achieved by men and women who had put others’ interests above their own.
In partnership with experts dealing with trauma cases, 2000 people were trained in trauma management.
Madam Jeannette Kagame requested that such expertize use existing programs giving people a platform to talk about history.
She said that healing trauma is preparing children who sustained consequences of these wounds to grow with a strong commitment to preventing genocide.
Like the liberation struggle, Jeannette Kagame said, no one should interfere in the war to heal trauma.
The country expects a great contribution from those who studied trauma management. Remember to have attention on a special aspect of Genocide against the Tutsi within your approaches to help trauma victims. ” she said.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame called on members of Rwanda Psychological Society (RPS), together with other partners within the field of trauma and mental health, to collectively find lasting solutions to the issue of trauma, seeking how to establish clinics and private institutions helping trauma management.
She also highlighted the need to delegate a person dealing with trauma in public places like schools and at work
The head of the Mental Health Division at the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), Dr. Yvonne Kayiteshonga revealed to participants that although the general population was dealing with various mental health issues, these issues were more prevalent among the survivors.
She specifically pointed out that according to the Rwanda Mental Health Survey (2018) 11.9% of the general public suffers from Major Depressive Episodes, while Genocide survivors affected by this mental disorder make up 35%.
Dr. Kayiteshonga highlighted that 3.6% of the general population are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while Genocide survivors suffering from this disorder came up to 27.9%.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), Dr. Jean Damascène Bizimana said that healing trauma takes time because it affects children of genocide survivors.
He lauded f the Government of Rwanda’s efforts dealing with trauma cases, as consequences of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi making the country secured and giving a platform to private organizations to heal genocide wounds.