From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani
The Executive Director of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei, has stated that soon the three Psychiatric Hospitals in Ghana will stop admissions of mental health patients, if government fails to come to their aid.
Dr. Osei said from January to date, the Mental Health Authority has not received any funds from the government.
Speaking on Sunyani based Space FM Morning Show, hosted by Dickson Smith, Dr. Osei said “the psychiatric hospitals are in dire situation and there is the urgent need for the government and the Minister of Health to come to their aid immediately, if not we may have to stop admissions”.
The three facilities are the Accra Psychiatric Hospital and Pantang Psychiatric Hospital in the Greater Accra Region and the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in the Central Region.
“If the dire situation continues, the staff in these three hospitals will down their tools and release all patients on admission at the hospitals, because they can’t attend to patients without getting equipment to treat them”, Dr. Osei stressed.
He said if persons with such cases are left untreated, they end up on the streets unkempt and, therefore, called on government to quickly come to their aid, in order to enable them carry out their operations efficiently.
Dr. Osei appealed to Civil Society Organizations, donors, the private sector and individuals to come to the aid of the Mental Health Authority saying, “the mental health system is an area where patients cannot be charged for treatment, they need our support.”
According to Dr. Akwasi Osei, he has spoken with the Minister of Health, but still nothing has been done, adding that, “the financial situation of the hospitals is not good at all”.
He told the host, Dickson Smith to “call the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister and Members of Parliament in the region and ask them what they are doing for mental health delivery, as we (Mental Health Authority) have financial problems,”.
Dr Osei said that mental health has become a silent national crisis, owing to poor quality of care in that area. In 2016, according to Dr Osei, 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.
He said a report issued some time ago suggested that 41 per cent of the population, predominantly women, suffer from mental distress and depression. The situation, he fears, is likely to worsen per the current outlook.
A taxi driver, Charles Antwi, grabbed headlines in 2015 when he went to the church where former President Mahama worships, with a gun, ostensibly to shoot him. He was later confirmed as mentally unwell.
There have been media reports in the past of three elderly farmers murdered in cold blood in Jamasi, in the Ashanti Region, by a suspected mentally challenged person.
Another report also indicated that a mentally unstable man in the Eastern Region killed a young girl and ate her flesh.There was also a report of the gruesome murder of a family of five by a suspected mentally challenged man at Assin Akrofuom, in the Central Region.
The then New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) parliamentary candidate for the Cape Coast North Constituency in the 2016 general election, Barbara Asher Ayisi also escaped an attack from a man, later found to be mentally unstable.