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Mental health care in post-genocide Rwanda: evaluation of a program specializing in posttraumatic stress disorder and substance abuse

  • L. C. Ng (a1) (a2) and B. Harerimana (a3)



Following the genocide, millions of Rwandans are likely living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Le Centre Psychothérapeutique Icyizere provides the only specialized treatment for PTSD in the Rwandan healthcare system.


Demographics, diagnosis, treatment, outcomes, and scores on assessments of functioning and PTSD were recorded from clinical charts of all patients receiving care between October 2013 and 2014. Descriptive statistics and within-group t tests comparing functional impairment and PTSD symptoms at intake to discharge and follow-up were calculated.


A total of 719 patients (55.08% male) received care. Patients were more educated, more likely to live in the capital, and less likely to be married than the general population. Patients reported high desire for, and strong satisfaction with, care. Most patients (55.60%) were still in care by the end of the program evaluation. Functioning improved from intake to discharge (p < 0.001), and improvements were sustained at follow-up (p < 0.001). Most adults were diagnosed with psychotic disorders, substance use disorders, or depression. Only 20 patients were diagnosed with PTSD, and symptoms were improved at discharge (p = 0.003).


This program evaluation demonstrated the utility of a low-resource information management system to provide clarity about the patient population and outcomes. Results suggest that services are effective and sustainable, although people with PTSD were not the primary recipients of care. Disparities in care by diagnosis, education, marital status, and geography are discussed. Results have contributed to changes in service delivery and care and efforts to increase access to care.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: L. C. Ng, Ph.D., The Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry, 25 Staniford Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA, USA. (Email:


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Mental health care in post-genocide Rwanda: evaluation of a program specializing in posttraumatic stress disorder and substance abuse

  • L. C. Ng (a1) (a2) and B. Harerimana (a3)


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