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Psychological Effects of Mbagala Bombs Blasts in Children

IN Messo


Uncontrolled explosions on 29th April 2009, at the Tanzania People’s
Defence Forces (TPDF) armouries in Mbagala military facility, a main storage area for various armaments in Dar es Salaam -Tanzania, tore through the walls and roofs, and landed on the floors of people’s residences situated within a wide radius from the source of the blasts. The bomb blasts claimed the lives of 26 people (including 6 military soldiers), injuring about 600 and more than 8300 houses damaged and thousands of residents displaced. Adverse mental health effects in response to a variety of distressing events in Tanzania are well documented. Yet, there is a paucity of studies that have systematically assessed the phenomenon of
psychological effects, and the Mbagala bomb blasts avails such a unique
opportunity for such a study in a developing country’s context. The purpose of this study was to investigate the psychological effects among the children involved in the Mbagala bomb blasts. It was hypothesized that the studied children would exhibit psychological disorders resulting from bomb blasts. The sample consisted of 211 randomly sampled primary school children. Psychological disorders were diagnosed using a scale called Brief Symptom Inventory-BSI in- children bomb survivors. The data were  analysed with the help of SPSS software, and presented statistically. The study findings showed that 60.3% of children bomb survivors had psychological disorders associated with bomb blasts. However, personal meaning of the event for the child, previous experience of trauma and appraisal of threat to life were related to the development of psychological disorders. Thus, the Mbagala bomb blasts affected the psychological life of children in the area. The study recommends provision of psychological treatment which may both improve general functioning of children in the post-trauma world and may act as a preventive measure, protecting children against future psychopathology.

Key words: disorder, psychological, trauma, stress

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eISSN: 0856-6739