AMREF helps Gongo la Mboto victims

On February 16 2011, a series of explosions at a military munitions dump in Gongo la Mboto Tanzania killed at least 25 people, flattening buildings and terrifying thousands of people in the local community.

AMREF is now training counselors to provide psycho-social support for the victims and their families.

March 7, 2011
By: Katare Mbashiru
Tanzania Daily News

African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) on Monday launched a three-day training to 20 health care workers who will provide psychological and counselling to Gongo la Mboto bomb blast victims.

The trainees will conduct community sensitization, prioritise the affected families as well as provide services to the first 79 most affected families in the suburb.

AMREF Acting Director General Ms Florence Temu said in Dar es Salaam on Monday that the disaster response psychological support project involved partners from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science (MUHAS), Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT), Ilala Municipality and Medical Women Association of Tanzania (MEWATA).

"Beyond the normal medication, direct and indirect victims needed long-term psychological support. This is because beyond physical sufferings caused by bomb blasts, there are some who will live with the phobia and trauma which need treatment which is not cheap but important", she said.

Ms Temu said the trainees were from different health centres of Gongo la Mboto and that the services on psychological and trauma counselling would kick off on Saturday.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) occurs when people are subjected to traumatic incidences such as terror and bomb explosions.

Sources from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare told the 'Daily News' that the similar bomb blast incident which occurred at Mbagala military munitions camp in April 2009 left 509 people with PTSD.

"Some 705 patients were admitted to Temeke District Hospital, three of them, including a child, were in acute stress reaction", said one of the officials who preferred anonymity.

Dr Touraj Ayazi who is a Clinical Psychologist from MUHAS said that participants who attended the training would acquire knowledge about emotional trauma, theories related with trauma and crisis as well as gaining skills and techniques on crisis intervention.

"At the end of the training, you will be able to disseminate public education on trauma response and PTSD as well as dealing with children and adolescent trauma", Dr Ayazi told the trainees.

A representative from MAT, Dr Kissah Mwambane, said that most people concentrated on physical support such as treating wounds and providing shelter, food and drinks to survivors, but forgot psychological support which she said was vital.

Dr Kissah who is MAT Acting Secretary General and a psychiatrist, said that psychological and trauma counselling to bomb blast victims, would help people who were psychologically affected by explosions live comfortably as before the blasts.

Jennifer Foulds
Director of Communications and Public Relations

Jennifer Foulds is the Director of Communications and Public Relations at AMREF Canada.

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