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Report calls for intensified education on LEAP programme

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A Joint NGO Shadow Report on mental health and human rights has recommended increased education about the LEAP Programme as a poverty reduction mechanism for households and individuals suffering from “severe” mental health conditions.

The report urged the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Mental Health Authority (MHA) to review and make a multi-stakeholder district welfare committee transparent and inclusive for effective integration, identification, capturing and enrollment of persons with mental illness onto the LEAP Programme.

Contents of the report were discussed at a day’s national dissemination meeting in Accra on Tuesday in line with the submission of the Report in contribution to the assessment of Ghana’s Human Rights Performance in the Fourth Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, (UPR),

The report, an alternative one giving an extra test to what had already been submitted by the State is an actionable step by the coalition of mental health NGOs led by MindFreedom Ghana (MFGh).

The Joint NGO Shadow Report process which was spearheaded by 32 NGOs from four zones, namely Greater Accra, Ashanti, Northern and Bono regions looked at the already existing literature through eight nationwide consultative and validation engagements.

The report is expected to be shared with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a periodic examination of the human rights performance of the State so that recommendations can be made to address the gaps.

The UNHRC reviews human rights records of all 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) every four years under the UPR process.

The UPR process was established in 2006 following the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251. And this has since become a major international mechanism for monitoring and reporting state parties’ compliance with universal human rights.

Ghana supported all the recommendations made about mental health during the third Cycle Review of the UPR.

Mr Clement Kadogbe, Senior Investigator, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), said human rights had become a common language that the global world was speaking and that demanded that all persons be treated with dignity and equality irrespective of race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or gender.

He acknowledged the importance CHRAJ attached to mental health issues and gave assurance of a partnership that would take steps toward dealing with the issues.

“Again, we are very much committed to the protection of all persons, hence we will use all legitimate means at the disposal of the Commission to ensure that the State improves on its human rights record and take steps to implement the recommendations from the UPR,” he said

Mr Kadogbe urged stakeholders to continue to play their respective roles that would make the world a better place for all.

Madam Esther Akua Gyamfi, Executive Secretary, National Council for Persons with Disability (PWD), commended the 32 NGOs for the report that reaffirmed the need for all PWDs to be guaranteed their full enjoyment of their fundamental human rights without discrimination.

She said the report further recognised that disability was an evolving concept and that it resulted from the interaction with persons with impairment and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hindered their full effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

She said, as much as the report sought to promote the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies for sustainable development, it was well catered for in the novel national development policy framework 2022- 2025.

Madam Gyamfi said the PWDs reenactment, and its accompanying Legislative Instrument (LI) addressed 70 per cent of the issues raised in the Shadow report.

“Therefore, Government’s commitment to passing the reenactment by 2023 as stated in the national action plan is great news for all of us,” she said.

In his remarks, Professor Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority said the human rights of persons with mental health conditions in the country be brought to the front burner for sustained efforts at advocating, monitoring and reporting on issues of mental health.

He lauded MFGh for a process that had created a sustainable platform for strengthening interactions between the government and non-state actors like civil and NGOs in mental health.

Mr Dan Taylor, Executive Secretary, MindFreedom Ghana (MFGh), said with funding from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, MFGh in collaboration with organisations versed in mental health, state actors and the media organised in-country consultations that facilitated national dialogues aimed to promote the human rights conditions of persons with psychological disabilities.

Dr Sofonias Astrat, a Representative of the World Health Organisation, said the UN team in Ghana was currently implementing joint programmes under the UN partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He said it was in close cooperation with the government, Civil Society Organisations and the UN would support efforts to strengthen alignment with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as an important entry point to address some issues identified.

Dr Astra commended the coalition of NGOs, advocates and government for their continued efforts at ensuring the prioritisation of mental health in the health sector and national development response.

Source: GNA

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