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Burundi is a country with an approximate area of 28 thousand sq. km. (UNO, 2001). Its population is 7.068 million, and the sex ratio (men per hundred women) is 96 (UNO, 2004). The proportion of population under the age of 15 years is 45% (UNO, 2004), and the proportion of population above the age of 60 years is 4% (WHO, 2004). The literacy rate is 57.7% for men and 43.6% for women (UNESCO/MoH, 2004).

The country is a low income group country (based on World Bank 2004 criteria). The proportion of health budget to GDP is 3.6%. The per capita total expenditure on health is 19 international $, and the per capita government expenditure on health is 11 international $ (WHO, 2004). The main language(s) used in the country is (are) French and Swahili. The largest ethnic group(s) is (are) Hutu, and the other ethnic group(s) are (is) Tutsi and Twa. The largest religious group(s) is (are) Roman Catholic, and the other religious group(s) are (is) Protestant and Muslim. The life expectancy at birth is 38.7 years for males and 43 years for females (WHO, 2004). The healthy life expectancy at birth is 33 years for males and 37 years for females (WHO, 2004).


There is a paucity of epidemiological data on mental illnesses in Burundi in internationally accessible literature. A study showed that sexual abuse is not as uncommon as thought (Baribwira et al, 1994). Some data are available on Burundese refugees living in Tanzania. These are described under the relevant section in Tanzania.


Mental Health Policy A mental health policy is absent.

Substance Abuse Policy A substance abuse policy is absent.

National Mental Health Programme A national mental health programme is present. The programme was formulated in 1998.

National Therapeutic Drug Policy/Essential List of Drugs A national therapeutic drug policy/essential list of drugs is present. It was formulated in 1998.

Mental Health Legislation Details about the mental health legislation are not available.

Mental Health Financing There are no budget allocations for mental health. Details about expenditure on mental health are not available. The primary sources of mental health financing in descending order are out of pocket expenditure by the patient or family and tax based. The country does not have disability benefits for persons with mental disorders.

Mental Health Facilities Mental health is a part of primary health care system. Actual treatment of severe mental disorders is not available at the primary level. Personnel are not trained as yet, and the numbers of drugs are limited. Regular training of primary care professionals is not carried out in the field of mental health. There are community care facilities for patients with mental disorders. Community care is available only in four provinces and is undertaken by an NGO.

Psychiatric Beds and Professionals

  • Total psychiatric beds per 10 000 population
  • Psychiatric beds in mental hospitals per 10 000 population
  • Psychiatric beds in general hospitals per 10 000 population
  • Psychiatric beds in other settings per 10 000 population
  • Number of psychiatrists per 100 000 population
  • Number of neurosurgeons per 100 000 population
  • Number of psychiatric nurses per 100 000 population
  • Number of neurologists per 100 000 population
  • Number of psychologists per 100 000 population
  • Number of social workers per 100 000 population
  • 0.1
  • 0.1
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0.02
  • 0.02
  • 0
  • 0.06
  • 0.2
  • 1.5

There is a special workers school and the university produces psychologists.

Non-Governmental Organizations NGOs are involved with mental health in the country. They are mainly involved in advocacy, promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Information Gathering System There is no mental health reporting system in the country. The personnel are untrained and the questionnaires do not contain questions on mental disorders. The country has no data collection system or epidemiological study on mental health. The system is being built.

Programmes for Special Population There are no special programmes for any population group.

Therapeutic Drugs The following therapeutic drugs are generally available at the primary health care level of the country: carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin sodium, sodium valproate, amitriptyline, chlorpromazine, diazepam, fluphenazine, haloperidol, lithium, biperiden, levodopa. There is also an essential list of drugs which was initially made in 1980, and the last revision was done in 1994. 

Source: World Health Organization Mental Health Atlas