The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Alhassan Shani Shaibu has hinted at plans by government to build a psychiatric hospital to serve the Northern sector of the country.

Currently, the five regions of the North lack such a facility as people with mental health challenges have to travel down south to seek health care or rely on traditional medicine. 

Earlier this month, two psychiatrists were posted to the Tamale Teaching Hospital, something stakeholders in the mental health sector have lauded.  The establishment of the facility will go long way in addressing the gap.

Speaking at the launch of a 33-month advocacy project by Songtaba an NGO in the region, Mr Shani Shaibu said non-operationalization of the Legislative Instrument for the Mental health Act remains a stumbling block to the effective delivery of mental health care services.

Government to build psychiatric hospital to serve Northern sector - Northern Regional Minister

He proposed that all the Municipal, Metropolitans and Districts Assemblies in the region should factor mental health delivery in their medium-term development plan.

The Regional Minister said health care delivery including mental health in Ghana has improved through the infrastructure expansion project in many hospitals across the country, adding that the Agenda 111, will help support the course.

Alhaji Shani commended Songtaba for being one of the organizations which have worked to secure basic rights for women and children especially girls for the past 15 years.

 He said the work of the organization has promoted women rights in the region and beyond and has contributed to setting national discourse on the treatment meted to old women accused of witchcraft.

The Executive Director of Songtaba Lamatu Adam said the project will be implemented in districts such as Yendi Municipality, Nanumba South, Gushegu and East Mamprusi Municipality.

Government to build psychiatric hospital to serve Northern sector - Northern Regional Minister

She said works by her NGO shows mental health issues have not featured adequately in the health needs of people in the country.

According to her several women who have been allegedly accused of witchcraft and banished suffer depression, trauma, and psychological effects among others which transcend to their families and children. 

She said the organisation have identified a lot of mental issues in their work with women who been accused of witchcraft which needs serious attention.

The Executive Director further noted that advocacy would help generate evidence which will be used to push for an advocacy framework that will help change policy towards mental health care delivery to these vulnerable women.

Programme Team Leader of Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, Lyla Adwan-Kamara said their visit to Gnani witches camp in the Yendi Municipality established that several women in their 90s do not have National Health Insurance Cards to access medical care.

Government to build psychiatric hospital to serve Northern sector - Northern Regional Minister

She added that it was also established that these women do not have part of the LEAP schemes, no access to district assembly disability fund among others.

Songtaba works with various district assemblies, traditional authorities, religious leaders and communities to secure the safety and dignity of women who suffer dehumanizing cultural conditions including witchcraft accusations.

The project which is been funded by the UKaid and supported by Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is aimed at improving access to mental health care-related service delivery to about 640 women including alleged witches in these districts.

It is also to improve knowledge on the reduction of stigma and violence against persons with mental health and to improve a conducive and enabling policy environment and institutional support for the implementation of Mental Health Act.