The Mental Health Authority has kick-started what it calls ‘a ban on chaining and shackles’ of mentally ill patients who are abused on a daily basis in traditional and faith-based healers.
Ghana’s treatment of mental disability, according to the Human Rights Watch is in violation of numerous domestic and international laws and agreements.
The Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Akwasi Osei, called on government to demonstrate its commitment to fighting human rights abuses of such persons by providing the needed funds at the mental health institutions.
He was speaking at the first prayer camp at Nyankumasi Ahenkro in the Central region where 16 persons who had been chained to trees were unchained for seven years.
In Ghana, faith-based healing centres and prayer camps are the first point of call by relations of persons suspected to show and can be found in every nook and cranny in the name of exorcising them of ill spirits of insanity.
The conditions of the places the people are kept are dehumanising where men and women are forced to fast, beaten and forced to drink concoctions that mostly have negative consequences for them.
The persons are subjected to the vagaries of the weather; they eat and defecate where they are chained.
“I collected my Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) pension which was about GHC20000. I settled my children and other family members remaining GHC5000 which I wanted to buy a car to keep the house going, but the money got lost,” a patient told Joy News’ Richard Kwadwo Nyarko.
“I suspected my wife and children and I was clear they return the money. All of a sudden police officers came to arrest me saying I was crazy and brought me from Moree to this place,” he narrated.
Dr Osei is worried that the exercise that is being embarked upon to implement what is in the Mental Health Act (846) will fail if government continues to starve mental institutions of funds.
"If government itself feels embarrassed by our human rights abuse, then they should help us with this programme and that means they should give us the resources and funding otherwise a time will come that we cannot continue,"
"That will be a serious blot on our collective conscience as a nation. The LI that has to be passed to make this possible, government is not passing. We are in July and we do not have a pesewa from government," he said.
The Authority unchained, bathed and clothed the persons at the centres and drove them to the Ankanful Mental Hospital hospital for a check up.