Peter C. Alderman Foundation

Ensuring access to mental health care

Building capacity and implementing mental health services in Burundi

2016 - 2017

Burundi is a small, landlocked and densely populated country in the African Great Lakes region that has faced years of civil war and ethnic violence. In 2015, Burundi slid back into violence, forcing many people to seek safety in neighbouring countries.

Like in other post-conflict nations, mental disorders are common. Burundi has one psychiatric hospital, one practicing psychiatrist and a small number of other mental health professionals. Fewer than 5% of those requiring mental health services have access to them, leaving a treatment gap of 95%.

The project is located in Kigutu, where PCAF has partnered with Village Health Works (VHW), a grassroots non-profit organization, to create a sustainable system that provides mental health and psycho-social services to the community.

A VHW clinic delivers health services to 200,000 people. PCAF built on existing facilities by pulling together a multidisciplinary team and supervising mental health services. A Ugandan team of mental health professionals trained local practitioners during the project’s first year. After training, the lead Ugandan psychiatrist will stay on and continue to supervise the local team’s patient treatment work.

The project’s second year will train local staff and undertake community outreach. This will increase patient screening and recruitment, promote treatment adherence, offer home visits and ensure patients and their families are adequately monitored.

Each year, the partnership will serve 1,000 people who have mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders, while improving the quality of life of an additional 5,000.

Project highlights

Activities and beneficiaries


mass campaign carried out


supervision by a psychiatrist


patients visited at home


patients recruited


technical training for professional