Closing the gap: decentralising mental health care to primary care centres in one rural district of Rwanda
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JournalPublic Health Action
AbstractSetting: Programmes that integrate mental health care into primary care settings could reduce the global burden of mental disorders by increasing treatment availability in resource-limited settings, including Rwanda. Objective: We describe patient demographics, service use and retention of patients in care at health centres (HC) participating in an innovative primary care integration programme, compared to patients using existing district hospital-based specialised out-patient care. Design: This was a retrospective cohort study using routinely collected data from six health centres and one district hospital from October 2014 to March 2015. Results: Of 709 patients, 607 were cared for at HCs; HCs accounted for 88% of the total visits for mental disorders. Patients with psychosis used HC services more frequently, while patients with affective disorders were seen more frequently at the district hospital. Of the 68% of patients who returned to care within 90 days of their first visit, 76% had a third visit within a further 90 days. There were no significant differences in follow-up rates between clinical settings. Conclusion: This study suggests that a programme of mentorship for primary care nurses can facilitate the decentralisation of out-patient mental health care from specialised district hospital mental health services to HCs in rural Rwanda.