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Discharge remand treated mental health patients - Health Minister urges

BY: Doreen Andoh
Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (middle), the Minister of Health, administering the oath of office to the reconstituted board of the Mental Health Authority
Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (middle), the Minister of Health, administering the oath of office to the reconstituted board of the Mental Health Authority

The Ministry of Health ( MoH) has appealed to the Ministry of Interior to facilitate the discharge of the large number of treated and abandoned patients referred to the various mental health facilities by the courts.

It said most of the people, even after treatment, were left there, increasing the burden of the already under-resourced health facilities while waiting for the courts to pursue their cases and discharge them.

Inaugurating the reconstituted board, the Mental Health Authority (MHA), in Accra last Friday, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, cited the Accra Psychiatric Hospital as having 100 out of its 150 inmates in its forensic ward as referred cases from the courts.

“It seems the hospitals are being used as extension prison facilities. Most of the people referred have been fully cured yet are left there by the courts. If our engagements with relevant stakeholders prove futile, then we will have no option but to discharge these persons to go home since the courts are not following up on them or their cases,,” he said.

Public support

Mr Agyeman-Manu charged the board to help increase advocacy and solicit for public support to augment government’s provision to improve on mental healthcare in the country and the mental health of the population.

“Lack of adequate resources has put the authority in so much distress and It’s about time we upped our game by doing a lot more advocacy to see how we can attract sympathy towards the work we do for people to come on board to support us. I pass through Pantang Hospital from time to time and I feel ashamed anytime I get there. I wish the facility could be improved but we don’t seem to have the resources to do that.

“Service delivery is challenged, particularly because the sector doesn’t generate internally generated fund (IGF) and because of that, we can’t build, we can’t buy equipment, we can’t give drugs, we can’t feed our patients and cannot pay for anything, and that is becoming a problem,” he said.

He added that the ministry was making efforts to facilitate the inclusion of mental healthcare services on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) since that was the only way the sector could find resources to support the management of patients.

MH levy

The Chief Executive Officer of the MHA, Prof. Akwasi Osei, said the over 10 years delay in instituting the Mental Health Levy, after the passage of the Mental Health Act 846, of 2012, was affecting service delivery in the sector.

“The law runs on the establishment of the Mental Health Levy and until we get that, we won't have the full benefit of it", he said.

He said it was the levy that would provide the required funding for the full and effective implementation of the sector.

Prof. Osei appealed to corporate institutions and the public to support the authority to achieve its mandate of promoting the rights of persons suffering from mental health challenges and providing them with the needed quality treatment and care.

The Chairperson of the board, a former Director of the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney-General’s Department of the Ministry of Justice, Estelle Appiah, expressed gratitude to the government for the confidence reposed in them.

Mrs Appiah assured the Ministry that the board was going to find more innovative ways to address some of those challenges in the sector to improve mental healthcare delivery in the country.

Members of the board include the Chief Executive Officer of the MHA, Prof. Akwasi Owusu-Osei; the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Adofo Ofosu, and a representative from the Ministry of Interior, Mr Kwasi Assan-Brew.

Others include the Head of the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Ghana School of Medicine, Professor Angela Ofori Attah; a representative from the Office of the Attorney General, Mrs Evelyn Daawee-Keelson; a legal practitioner, Mrs Janet Naa Karley Amegatcher, and the Director of Budgeting at the Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Health, Mr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah.

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