The deplorable nature of the provision of Mental Health Care in Ghana has caught the attention of Members of Parliament who have called for an immediate national intervention to prevent a total collapse of the Mental Health Care system which is reeling under a lot of pressure of lack of funding and inadequacy of specialized personnel.
They have called on government to take urgent actions to establish a high-level inter-ministerial task force to see to the full implementation of the Mental Health Act, Act 846 of 2012 and institute sanctions for non-professional centers providing services for the treatment of mental illness.
The law makers have also called for an increased budgetary allocation and spending on mental health; institute a system of periodic mental health check-ups; and provide resources and support to civil society organizations to embark on aggressive nationwide awareness creation about the causes, dangers and treatment of mental illness in the country.
A statement read on the Floor of Parliament on Tuesday on behalf of the Member of Parliament for the Oforikrom constituency, Dr. Emmanuel Marfo by the Member of Parliament for the Asante Akim North constituency, Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, captured the dangers posed by a faulty mental health care system to the security of the citizenry and the development of the nation.
The statement recounted recent confirmed cases of suicide among the youth population in the country’s universities; gruesome murder cases recorded in different parts of the country; and even the assassination attempt by one taxi driver on the life of the then sitting President John Dramani Mahama, among others as examples of dangers posed to the country by one form of mental illness or the other.
Owing to the above mentioned issues among others, the MP called on the government to ensure that Mental Health Care is brought back unto the National Development Agenda and not pushed to the back burner as though it was not as important as the many issues of developmental challenges which the country is confronted with as a developing nation.
He bemoaned the fact that Ghana is one of the worse countries in Africa with a very poor doctor-patient ratio in the mental health sector. According to him a study conducted in 2011 by Roberts et al (2014), Ghana’s doctor-patient ratio in the mental health sector stood at 1:1.7 million as compared to 1:1 million in Nigeria and 1: 50,000 in Kenya.
The dearth in skilled or specialized personnel coupled with inadequate financial resources has empowered traditional healers, shrines, churches and prayer camps to take advantage of the system to perpetuate all kinds of abuses against mentally ill patients since they have become the only option for mental health care in the country, especially in the rural areas.
The deplorable nature of the situation in the country led the Executive Director of Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei to state that mental health has become a silent national crisis owing to poor quality of care in that area.
In their contribution to the statement on the Floor, the Members of Parliament were concerned about the treatment meted out to mental health patients and wondered what had changed since Anas’ investigative work on the state of mental health in the country some few years ago.
According to the Majority leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah Bonsu, the state committed a fundamental error in the passage of the Disability Law, Act 715, when it left out persons with mental disability and failed to make adequate provisions for their treatment, upkeep and human rights.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Michael Oquaye, therefore directed that the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should assist the Committee on Health to draft a Bill that would enhance the rights of mentally disabled persons, the death and dumb and such allied persons for passage into law.
Source: Clement Akoloh/afriwakeradio