Drug shortages retard recovery of mental patients

The nationwide intermittent shortages of mental health drugs is retarding the recovery process of patients in the Brong-Ahafo Region, investigation by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) has revealed.

The shortages of psychiatric medication also worsens the health condition of patients and their rehabilitation.

The common illnesses recorded among the patients are psychotic and depressive disorders, epilepsy, anxiety, schizophrenia and trauma.

This was made known when the GNA visited Wamanafo in the Dormaa East, Nkrankwanta in Dormaa West and Anyima in Kintampo South Districts to access the impact of a mental health project being implemented by MIHOSO International, a non-governmental organization that provides public health services.

The project, scheduled to end this year, is being financially supported by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom through Basic Needs Ghana, also an NGO.

It seeks to support access to treatment services, improve acceptance and human rights of men, women and children with mental illness and also enabled at least 3,500 people with mental illness to live and work successfully in their communities.

Some of the mental health patients benefiting from the project appealed to the government to ensure that drugs were always available to speed up their recovery process.

They commended MIHOSO international and its partners for the support, and appealed for clothing, food and financial assistance to enable them to engage in economic activities and enhance their livelihood.

At the Wamanafo Holy Ghost Prayer Camp, Madam Martha Agyei, a 57-year-old single mother from Wamfie, who is recovering from depression, commended the operators of the camp for their support towards her rehabilitation.

Madam Agyei said she was brought to the camp by her relatives 14 years ago, but they had abandoned her, saying that, none of her relatives had visited and supported her to access medication.

For Felicia Kusiwaa, 26, a native of Krosua in the Dormaa Municipality, said her illness started when she was at the Aherensua Senior High School.

“Before I was brought to the camp, I always hear voices from afar, but I thank God that I no more hear those voices”.

Kusiwaa said she wanted to continue her education or go into dressmaking, and appealed to the general public to support her.

Pastor Kwadwo Ansu, the Founder of the Prayer Camp, thanked the project implementers for the concern and support for the inmates, which is speeding up their recovery.

He commended the mental health officers at the Wamanafo Poly Clinic for their regular visits and interactions with the mental health patients.

Pastor Ansu said with support from MIHOSO and its partners, the camp had been able to heal 24 people with various forms of mental disorders and successfully reintegrated them with their families.

“Many of the recovered people are individuals of substance abuse disorders and currently there are six patients receiving treatment at the camp.

Pastor Ansu expressed concern about the lack of toilets, potable water and other sanitary facilities for patients at the camp and appealed to NGOs, philanthropists and corporate institutions to come to their aid.

He said the situation had compelled female patients to sleep at the church premises, whilst their male counterparts sleep in dilapidated structures.

Meanwhile, some of the care-givers of the mental health patients have complained about the high cost of the drugs.

They said the availability of the drugs and its strict intake facilitates the speedy treatment, healing and recovery process of mental health patients.

The care-givers said because of high cost of the prescribed drugs, majority of them could not afford it for the patients as required.

This situation, they observed, had slowed down treatment of the patients and appealed to the government to intervene to ensure that drugs for mental health patients are also covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Mr. Pontius N. Ninwiri, the Project Officer of MIHOSO International expressed discomfort with the poor living conditions of the patients.

He advised the patients and their care-givers to form groups and come under one umbrella to enable his NGO to lobby support for them to start businesses.

Source: GNA

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