The Accra Psychiatric Hospital will embark on a mass repatriation exercise on Monday, September 15, to decongest the hospital of patients who have been treated and discharged.

The Social Development Officer of the Department, Mrs Esther Gyandoh, told the Daily Graphic in Accra that the action had become necessary because most of the house numbers given by families of the patients had turned out to be false.

She said the repatriation exercise would therefore seek the assistance of municipal and district assemblies and other community leaders to help trace the families of the discharged patients.

According to her, Monday’s exercise would be the second in the hospital’s efforts at integrating patients and families and disclosed that the first effort saw the integration of 101 recovered patients into their families.

She said the initial phase of Monday’s repatriation exercise would take five days and involve the repatriation of about 46 patients to the Volta Region and later the repatriation of other recovered inmates to the Eastern, Central, Western, Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo Regions.

It would involve more than 500 patients, some of whom, according to Mrs Gyandoh, had been neglected by their families for more than 15 years.

Mrs Gyandoh stated that the Welfare Department of the hospital recommended the mass repatriation exercise as a necessary measure based on the success of a pilot programme to address challenges including congesting of wards, enhancing effective welfare – and rehabilitation programmes, and reuniting of recovered patients into their families.

She complained that apart from lack of funds to sustain the programme, another challenge her department was facing was the refusal of some patients who had fully recovered to ~o back home because of the stigmatisation and ill-treatment meted out to them by their families.

“The community-based rehabilitation concept where receiving families and district assemblies were trained to reduce stigmatisation attached to mental patients has been conducted to help integrate them in their local environment,” she added.

She noted that the Minister of Health, Major Courage Quashigah (retd) had also requested for an extensive public awareness and education to correct the negative perception the public had about recovered mentally ill patients.

According to her some of the last batch of patients they recently repatriated in the Accra metropolis came back to the hospital a day after the repatriation because of the stigmatisation and also due to the proximity of the hospital to their homes.

“Most of the patients have recovered after treatment but because of the stigmatisation attached to mental patients, home because of the stigmatisation and ill-treatment meted out to them by their families.

“The community-based rehabilitation concept where receiving families and district assemblies were trained to reduce stigmatisation attached to mental patients has been conducted to help integrate them in their local environment,” she added.

She noted that the Minister of Health, Major Courage Quashigah (retd) had also requested for an extensive public awareness and education to correct the negative perception the public had about recovered mentally ill patients.

According to her some of the last batch of patients they recently repatriated in the Accra metropolis came back to the hospital a day after the repatriation because of the stigmatisation and also due to the proximity of the hospital to their homes.

“Most of the patients have recovered after treatment but because of the stigmatisation attached to mental patients, their families refuse to come back for them,” she stated, and urged families of affected patients to have sympathy on their patients and help in their integration in society.

Mrs Gyandoh stated that another reason why the Welfare Department had difficulty carrying out its core function was the lack of coherence in data sharing between the hospital’s administration and the Social Welfare Department.

She remarked that because the administration alone handled the admission of patients in the hospital it became difficult for the Social Welfare Department to carry out its duty to reunite -recovered patients with their families.

“The Welfare Department needs to work hand in hand with the administration in the admission of patients to the hospitals so we can hold those who bring them here responsible for their integration and resettling back into society,” she urged, and noted that because most of the families did not want to come back for the patients, they intentionally provided insufficient and misleading information about their residence during admission of patients.

She said the Welfare Department if given the opportunity would follow families of patients to their respective houses after the patients had been admitted to make their resettling back unto society much easier.

Some of the recovered patients who had been able to remember where they came from, she explained, could be assisted to resettle with their prospective families but because her department was under-resourced, most of the patients were still at the hospital after years of abandonment.

She disclosed that notwithstanding all these challenges, her department would on Monday, September 15, 2008 embark on a mass repatriation exercise, the final phase of a continuing programme for some recovered and discharged patients at the hospital.

Source: Graphic

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