In Rwanda, a new study aims to help improve mental health and counseling services for children and families.

Fredrick Kanyanganzi (left) and Christian Ukundineza of FSI write up notes from CFAR interviews in Rwanda. Photo by Anne Stevenson

by Anne Stevenson

A new study to measure how the prevalence and patterns of mental health disorders are related to HIV status was launched by Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima in Rwanda, in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health. The Family Strengthening Intervention project began collecting data this week for its Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) study.

“This study will help us identify children who are in need of mental health care and allow us to improve mental health and counseling services for children and families in this region, not just those who are affected by HIV," says study coordinator Fredrick Kanyanganzi.

The study aims to interview 1,500 children and caregivers in the Kirehe and southern Kayonza districts in eastern Rwanda. These interviews will be used to assess mental health problems, protective factors, and risk factors among children who are (1) HIV-infected; (2) HIV-affected but not infected (children who have an HIV-positive caregiver or whose parent died from HIV); and (3) non-HIV-affected.

“This is the culmination of work that we started more than four years ago and it is incredibly fulfilling to reach this point,” says Kanyanganzi.  

Learn more about the Family Strengthening Intervention.

Anne Stevenson is a program manager for the Harvard School of Public Health Research Program on Children and Global Adversity/ FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.