Authorities at the Psychiatric Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi say the conditions of patients at the unit could deteriorate, as drugs are in short supply at the hospital’s psychiatric department.
As a result, many mental patients are unable to follow through their treatment.
The unit records about 200 mentally ill patients on clinic days with severe mental health cases on daily basis. According to officials at the unit, the Ministry of Health has not released drugs to the department for the past one year. Patients are thus forced to buy the drugs which should usually come at no cost.
Government in November last year inaugurated a Mental Health Board under the Mental Health Act 846 with a call on members to establish a fund to ensure that the perennial lack of money for mental health becomes a thing of the past.
Members were also asked to provide adequate resources to protect the mental health of children, youth and identified high-risk groups, involving people with experience of mental health problems and their families.
The board was tasked to strengthen community awareness campaign that mental health disorders are treatable and preventable and also ensure early intervention programmes.
Health Minister Sherry Ayittey who inaugurated the board said “an investment in mental health was necessary to protect human right and for socio-economic development”.
Ms Ayittey at the ceremony stated that “government considers mental health as a crucial issue for national development because the nation cannot create wealth for itself if the people are not healthy and productive”.
Beautiful as these platitudes may have been delivered, the age long challenges confronting the nation’s mental health care system still remain unattended to.
The only Psychiatrist at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Gordon Donnir, told Ultimate Radio the unit relies on donations to purchase drugs which are inadequate.
“Under the law, the government provides us drugs but for over a year, we don’t have drugs so they go to the open market where drugs are sold at cut throat prices which most of them cannot afford. We thus have people coming back with a recurrence of their symptoms and signs”, he lamented.
He narrated several episodes where his unit had seen patients, diagnosed their conditions and done everything possible within psychiatric training without getting any treatment for the patient.
He fears more mentally ill persons could soon flood the streets if nothing is done about this. Dr. Gordon Donnir has therefore called on individuals and groups to respond to this call by supporting them with drugs to salvage the situation.
He warns that without this, the country sits on a time bomb of an imminent parading of the mentally challenged on the streets of the Ashanti Region and elsewhere with all its attendant problems and inconveniences.