Accra Psychiatric Hospital begs for rice

The Accra Psychiatric hospital, originally built as a prison, is home for patients whose condition is prison-like for a hospital.

Deprivation, neglect are the main themes of the state of the facility plus the ever-recurring incidents of violent patients.

The hospital which was built in 1906 begs for rice, drugs and other essentials to sustain its 400 inmates who depend on a paltry Ghc 110,000 monthly budgetary allocation. But it is estimated to cost $ 8500 to treat one schizophrenia patient. 

Speaking to a traumatized Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host, Daniel Dadzie, following his familiarisation visit to the facility Tuesday, a publicist of the hospital said “You just experienced a day of the hospital situation. I have worked there for 6 years.”

Emmanuel Aboagye Appiah

Emmanual Aboagye Appiah did not caution listeners when he opened up on the dehumanising situation both staff and clients endure using the Accra Psychiatric hospital. 

“Mosquitoes chewing us,” he started the narration which included how a pregnant nurse lost her baby and a doctor was mercilessly beaten because they were attacked by a patient who had a relapse.

But they cannot fight back. 

“We are trained not to retaliate. These are our patients. This is what we are trained to do, Mr. Appiah added.

The Accra Psychiatric hospital is not giving up. Management has resorted to ingenious means to feed and help its client, including begging. 

“We decided to go and beg,” the hospital’s Publicist recounted on the SMS. That,however, did not address the other issues, including understaffing.

Some health professionals posted to the facility abandoned it following its state of deterioration.  As a result, only two nurses go for night shift and even that they have nowhere to sleep. 

“It is just grace that we are not dead. Almost everyone has been attacked before. I got my share just three weeks ago. You go to work and you bring bed bugs home.” the publicist for Accra Psychiatric hospital revealed.  

As health professionals count on the Grace of God to help citizens of Ghana with mental illness, it is estimated that of the 21.6 million people living in Ghana, 650,000 are suffering from a severe mental disorder.

For moderate to mild mental disorder, a further 2.16million suffer, a World Health Organisation report in 2016 revealed.

The Ghana Health Service provides more grim data. It has revealed that about 41 percent of Ghanaians have some psychological disorder.

About four million Ghanaians, out of the estimated population of 28million are suffering from mild to severe mental illness, Mental Health Authority report in 2017 said.

Image result for Mr. Kweku Brobbey
Photo: Kweku Brobbey is Head of Communication at the Mental Health Authority

Head of Communication at the Mental Health Authority had no solution to the existing challenge.

The poor state of mental health “in Ghana is an issue of neglect. Mental health in Ghana has been neglected by everyone.  It is deplorable, it distasteful but that is that what it is,” Kweku Brobbey said in exhilaration. 

Explaining the peculiar nature of the crises he added that “mental health is not like ordinary physical condition where you have a treatment plan. Mental health goes beyond this.”

According to the Head of Communication, that explains “why we need a dedicated budget,”  because “facilities are overstretched.”

Sadly, mental health is not captured under the National Health Insurance Scheme which would have ensured services outside budgetary allocation are catered for by the state.

But under the current arrangement, the hospital works on a shoestring budget, depending on the government’s infrequent goodness.

“Those with mental illness are in the lower income bracket. Funds come in as and when it is available. Mental health has not been prioritised in the country,” he lamented.