Not a single penny from government has gone into the Mental Health Authority since it was set up in 2013, head of Psychiatry at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Dr. Sammy Ohene has revealed.
After government passed the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) and named a Board in 2013, it has gone to sleep when it came to funding the operations of the Authority.
“This might shock you…but that is just a fact,” Dr. Ohene stated on the Joy FM Super Morning Show.
Not even the office building of the Authority was provided for by government, the doctor claimed. He said the only source of funding for the Authority is the DFID.
Photo: Ms Sherry Ayittey(right), the then Minister of Health, swearing in board members of the Mental Health Authority in 2013
Mental health care 'not yet uhuru'
The Mental Health Act 846 described by the Authority’s Board Chairman as a “revolution,” states the sources of funding for the Authority.
It has taken 8 years to pass the law after it was introduced to Parliament in 2004. When it was passed on August 2, 2012, doctors, nurses who had thronged to parliament burst into joy.
A very elated Chief Psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service (GRS), Dr Akwasi Osei who was in parliament told the media "I don't know how to express my joy”.
Photo: health professionals flocked to parliament in 2012 to witness the passing of the law
“Eight years of anxiety, apprehension and patience- that is how I can describe my feeling now. If we knew that the bill would be passed today, we would have come here with buses full of people and thereafter paraded through the streets of Accra to exhibit our joy and appreciation,” he said, adding that “we have to pop champagne as a result of this good news".
Buoyed by the legislative green light, Dr. Akwasi Osei stated that "… five years from now there will be no mad persons roaming the streets of the country”.
It is not five years yet but four years into the passage of the law, the dream of a mental health patients is becoming a nightmare.
The shocking reality
Only last week, eight people were butchered by two persons believed to be mentally deranged.
At Assin Akrofoum in the Assin South District in the Central Region, an ex-convict Akwasi Ganu, killed five people – four of them his family members.
He murdered his mother Abena Ganu while she was eating, chopped off the head of his 65-year old father, George Ganu, killed his sister, Janice Ganu before finishing off George, his four-year-old nephew. His landlord Victor Kofi Tano was not spared.
The late Victor Tano
Only the son of the landlord, Kwabena Nyarko survived the bloody unprovoked attack. He suffered injuries in the shoulder and was hospitalized. A scandalized mob later killed the drug addict and ex-convict Akwasi Ganu.
Last Thursday in Ashanti regional town, Jamasi, a man suspected to be mentally ill allegedly butchered three elderly female farmers in the community.
Two of the deceased, Afia Adukuma, 63, and her sister, Yaa Nyamekye, were murdered on their farm while the third, Rose Akyaa, managed to reach the clinic before she died.
The deaths have shocked the country and reflected renewed attention on the state of mental healthcare in Ghana.
Joy FM's Super Morning Show discusses mental health
Photo: [L -R] Dr Sammy Ohene, Dr Yao Mfodwo and Dan Taylor
Discussing the matter on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday, three panelists, Dr Sammy Ohene, Dr Yao Mfodwo and Dan Taylor explained that there are many professionals with mental health problems in Ghana.
The stressful lifestyle, long hours in traffic and at work are hurting the proper functioning of the brain, they agreed
They advocated serious attention to mental health just like any other area of healthcare. They lamented the under-resourcing of the Mental Health Authority since the passage of the law.
Mr. Dan Taylor pointed out Section 82 of the Mental Health Act which detailed the sources of funding for the Authority. It is to rely on gifts and donations apart from other sources.
Sources of money for the Fund
82. The moneys for the Fund include:
(a) voluntary contributions to the fund from individuals, organisations and the private sector;
(b) moneys approved by Parliament for payment into the Fund; (c) grants from bilateral and multilateral sources;
(d) donations and gifts; and
(e) moneys from any other source approved by the Minister responsible for Finance.
Dr. Ohene said he found it uncomfortable that mentally-ill patients in Ghana should be treated with other "country's taxpayers money".
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