In Pictures: Psychiatric care in DR Congo - Al Jazeera English

In Pictures: Psychiatric care in DR Congo

The central African country, site of the deadliest fighting since World War II, is home to many who need mental care.

Patrick Meinhardt | | Health, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo - Since 1998, more than five million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have lost their lives in a series of wars that, taken together, are the deadliest since World War II. The psychological and physiological impact on the people of this central African nation has been enormous.

Fifteen million Congolese, out of a population of roughly 60 million, are estimated to suffer from mental illness. After suffering from more than two decades of political unrest, the country lacks a modern-day healthcare system.

Witch doctors and shamans are the most common healthcare providers in the North Kivu region, in the country's east. Many of these traditional health practitioners believe that mental and physical disorders are the result of witchcraft or demonic possession, and thus use highly unorthodox methods to cure the illness or extract what some believe are demons.

Whereas doctors use modern medicine to treat patients, church ministers use prayer, and shamans use traditional healing which involves phytotherapy - the use of plants as medicine - as well as totems and witchcraft.

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