KWAKU AGYEMAN-Manu, Minister of Health, has called for an immediate intervention to discharge the huge number of persons sent by the law courts to the various mental health facilities for treatment and care.
He said, “Most of these people are fully cured of their ailment yet continue to live at the facilities. We feed them and they occupy the places and it seems the hospitals are being used as an extension of the prisons which should not be so.”
The Health Minister explained for instance that, out of the about 150 patients currently on admission at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital Forensic ward, 100 were referred from the courts.
The ministry had no other option than to discharge these persons to go home, since the courts had failed to pursue their cases over the years, adding that their continuous stay in the facilities was a heavy burden on the already scarce resources of the health institutions.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu said the ministry was going to write Memos to the Ministry of Interior, the Attorney General, the Ghana Police and Prisons Services respectively, for the swift uptake of these persons in the next one month, and if not, the ministry would be left with no choice than to release them to go home.
The Minister of Health made the call in Accra when he inaugurated an 11-member Governing Board for Ghana’s Mental Health Authority (MHA). The board would be chaired by Estelle Matilda Appiah, the President’s nominee, with members including Prof. Akwesi Owusu Osei, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority; Kwesi Assan-Brew, Ministry of Interior; Dr. Anthony Adofo Ofosu, Ghana Health Service; and Evelyn Daawee-Keelson, Office of the Attorney General.
Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, Janet Naa Karley Amegatcher and Prof. Angela Ofori-Atta, were all nominees of the minister, while a representative each from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Welfare, and Tertiary Medical Training Institution respectively, were also approved as members.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu led the members to swear the Oaths of Office and Secrecy, and thanked them for availing themselves for service to the nation. He charged the board to work towards increasing advocacy and funding to improve the mental health status of Ghanaians.
He, however, grieved over the fact that the separation of the institutions that used to be under the ministry but were now independent had created a wide funding gap between those whose activities could generate revenue internally to support their operations, and those that do not, making orphans of the underprivileged ones such the Mental Health Authority.