Mental patients in Burundi suffer lack of psychotropic drugs

“The lack of drugs to fight against mental disorders in Burundi pharmacies, their high cost and the poverty of the patients’ families are the major problems mental patients face in Burundi,” said Dr. Franck Minos Sokoroza, the head of the medical department at Kamenge Neuropsychiatric Center (CNPK) situated in the capital Bujumbura on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.

Franck Minos Sokoroza: “The number of consultations of mental patients has increased from 9,282 cases in 2012 to 16,359 in 2017.”

Franck Minos Sokoroza: “The number of consultations of mental patients has increased from 9,282 cases in 2012 to 16,359 in 2017.”

Sokoroza indicates that the number of consultations of mental patients has increased considerably over the years. “Consultations increased from 9,282 in 2012 to 16,359 in 2017,” he says adding that cases of admission to the hospital in this center have also increased. “In 2012, we had 820 patients while we had 878 in 2017.”

He says CNPK gets drug supplies at the Central Purchasing Department for Essential Drugs in Burundi (CAMEBU), adding that most of specialty drugs that are not available in Burundi are ordered in Belgium, which makes them more expensive.

This psychiatrist appreciates the assistance provided to needy patients through the Ministry of Solidarity. “Patients pay for their consultation fees at CNPK and get drugs in the ministry,” he says adding that a patient admitted to hospital must pay BIF 150.00 as a deposit.

This mental health specialist deplores the lack of doctors at CNPK arguing that the center currently has three psychiatrists and seven general practitioners. One doctor receives an average of 30 patients a day. “Out of a staff of 9 doctors available at the center, we can consult between 250 and 300 patients per day.”

Sokoroza calls on the government to prioritize the mental health sector. “Students are not interested in this area. Pursuing this career is considered a waste of time,” he says.

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