Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, has admitted that mental health issues remain one of the major challenges in Ghana.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday, Mr Agyemang-Manu said the country has failed to address the serious issues facing the sector.
From stigmatisation of mental patients, the lack of advocacy and care to the reintegration of mental health patients into society, the country was far behind, he said.
He explained that there are old-age barriers that have prevented improvements to the mental health sector in the past and now.
“When people are ill we go to hospitals to visit them, but when you put a mental health patient into care, the families abandon them,” he said.
He revealed that although the National Health Insurance Scheme covers care for mental health patients, issues like their feeding is left to their families who abandon them.
For families that do not abandon their loved ones, he disclosed that people encounter problems regarding the distance to and from the mental health facilities.
To curb this, the Health Ministry has provided mental health coordinators in almost every region to cater to the needs of their community, he said.
He also said although the mental health sector has been supported by donors, government input has been a problem.
“We don’t have revenue so much that you can give what health [sector] needs. The needs are not only mental health: we have to improve on mother and childcare, malaria, HIV, TB, emergency preparedness, investment into facilities expanding,” he said to explain the lack of adequate financing of the sector.
Mr Agyemang-Manu continued: “the country designed our old hospitals to the point that we never created room for mother and childcare. So, new things for paediatrics, we don’t even have them.
“We are thinking of how to improve on our outcomes; we need to put in investments,” he said.
While he acknowledges that there were no provisions in the 2020 budget for mental health issues the country faces, he remains hopeful that with the Finance Minister so passionate about mental health, investments in the sector will improve.
He also appealed to the public to support the government to improve care for mental health patients across the country.
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