Mental health cases rise at Nduta refugee camp

Monday October 9 2017

Refugees in Nduta camp gather at a health

Refugees in Nduta camp gather at a health promotion event. Due to various health challenges in the camp, a team of health workers and Burundian comedians provide enterntainment as they raise awareness on key health problems within the camp. PHOTO | SYRIACUS BUGUZI 

By Syriacus Buguzi @buguzi

Dar es Salaam. Reports have it that there is a rise in mental health condition cases at Nduta refugee camp, which is located in Kigoma Region.

This has been revealed by an international medical-humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), ahead of the World Mental Health Day. The day will be marked tomorrow.

In a statement availed to the media today, MSF said the number of mental health patients has doubled since June, 2017.

Currently, according to the statement, an average of 400 people seek consultations for various mental health conditions at the Nduta camp.

‘More than two thirds of the patients are female,’’ the statement reads.

Some 127,000 Burundian refugees are hosted at the camp after fleeing their country due to political instability, according to the MSF.

Dr Kristi Payten, the Medical Coordinator for MSF in Tanzania, the rise in the number of people seeking mental health attention is contributed by several factors namely; the precarious situation that refugees have fled, poor living conditions at the camp and constant pressure for them to go back home.

“Uncertainty about the future and feelings of hopelessness contribute to the mental health conditions the refugees are suffering,’’ said Dr Payten.

“Mental health and psychosocial problems are often interconnected with challenges the refugees face. Accessing proper shelter, nutrition, healthcare and education are wanting,’’ Payten continued.

“If these basic needs are not available, there can be a significant impact on the psychological wellbeing of the individual and the community in general,’’ she added.

The main symptoms among the patients seeking the treatment are related to depression, accounting for 30.1 per cent of cases, followed by anxiety (28.5 per cent) and trauma (11.0 percent).

A section of the refugees also have Severe Mental Disorders, which account for 7.3 per cent of the mental health cases.

Through its mental health programme, MSF has conducted more than 40,070 psychological support sessions for individuals and families.

Their team of community health workers also works within the camp to promote awareness about the services and strengthen community support for those suffering.

MSF’s Mental Health Activities Manager at the Nduta Camp Ms Ursula Rincon said the refugees have often suffered terrible situations before they arrived, stressing that most of the feel that they their future is lost altogether.

“Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Psychological and emotional support are part of the medical care we are offering here,’’ she said.