CSOs urge Ghana government to pay attention to mental health

StethoscopeCivil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Upper East Region, have appealed to government to pay special attention to mental health care in the country.

While commending government and Parliament for the passage of the Mental Health Bill, and the establishment of the Mental Health Authority,the CSOs stressed the urgent need for government to vote more money into the Mental Health Fund,  for the implementation of the earmarked activities and programmes stipulated in the Bill.

The CSOs made up of the Coalition of NGOs in Health, Rural Initiatives for Self Empowerment-Ghana (RISE-Ghana) and Basic Needs Ghana, made the call at separate meetings held in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region.

They observed that while government devoted lots resources to the physical health sector, that of the mental health, was neglected.

The CSOs stated that to be able to tackle the problem of Mental Health, functional Psychiatric Units had to be decentralised, and more Psychiatrists trained, all of which required adequate funding.

They also expressed concern about the frequent shortage and delay in the supply and distribution of psychiatric and anti-epilepsy medicine nationwide, leading to  relapse of many cases.

“Current supply rate is 40% which is woefully inadequate”.

“Out of the 10 regional hospitals in Ghana, only seven have functioning Psychiatric Units.

Most hospitals do not have dedicated beds for Mental Health Clients, as required by law.

We must move beyond the policy-making and promulgation, to develop blueprints and Legislative Instruments (LIs) to walk these beautiful policies and desires,  and generate real action at all levels from Accra to Zanlerigu in the Upper East Region”,   Ahmed  Awal  Kariama, Resource Mobilization Advisor, RISE-Ghana remarked.

Mr Alagskomah Asakeya, Regional Chairman of the Coalition of NGOs in Health, impressed upon the Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs),  to devote part of their budget allocation for mental health care as required by the law,  and suggested that they could sponsor more students in their respective areas who were interested in the field to study so that they could be bonded to serve in mental health facilities in their respective areas.

He said per the Mental Health law, the Assemblies were supposed to liaise with the Police, the Social Welfare Department and the Health Authorities, to take persons with mental disorder found in public places within the District to health facilities for treatment and rehabilitation which they were not doing.

The CSOs commended Basic Needs Ghana for supporting mental health patients across some parts of the country, and said since its establishment in 2002 with support from the European Union, DFID, Big Lotteries and STAR- Ghana among others, Basic Needs Ghana had reached more than 18,838 people with mental illness or epilepsy from over 18,700 families, together with more than 18,335 care-givers in Northern, Upper East and Upper West, Central, Brong Ahafo, Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions.

“Currently, the organization is working actively with more than 17,603 people with mental illness or epilepsy, all of whom are receiving regular treatment, while more than  4,681 of them had been  stabilized , trained or being  trained in vocational skills,  and empowered to venture into small businesses, horticultural activities and other several different income generating activities to cater for themselves.

Mr Peter Yaro ,  Executive Director of Basic Needs Ghana,   stated that there were a lot of people with mental health challenges,  and reiterated the need for Government , Cooperate entities,  MDAs and all well-meaning Ghanaians,   to help the Mental Health Authority,   by contributing towards putting in place  the necessary infrastructure,  in all the regions, to address mental health problems.

Source: GNA

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