The Regent of Dagbon, Kampakuya Naa Andani Yakubu has called for the immediate inclusion of mental illness in the National Health Insurance Scheme to improve access to medications by the mentally ill and epileptic patients.
He also declared his total support to end the inhumane treatment meted out to mentally challenged in his area.
He was speaking to the media after a durbar organized by Basic Needs Ghana in Yendi in the Northern Region on the theme “Support Mental Health in Ghana”.
The chief was emphatic he will not hesitate to use all appropriate measures to deal with persons who violate the rights of the mentally challenged.
Ghana constituted the Mental Health Act in 2012 which subsequently saw the establishment of the Ghana Mental Health Authority in 2016. However, the protection of these persons still remains a challenge as they are continuously left in the hands of families who do not only abuse them by deny them the right to property either acquired by them before they became ill or bequeathed to them.
The situation in the Northern region is not different from other parts of Ghana as traditionally, mental illness as well as epilepsy is believed to be the result curses from the gods. This usually have negative consequences on the lives of the victims.
Kampakuya Na Andani Yakubu revealed he has observed that Ghana continue to under prioritize mental health care, citing the inadequate supply of medicines at the various psychiatric hospitals as a case in point.
It is against this backdrop that he called on government to include mental health in the National Health Insurance Scheme for continuous access to medications by patients.
“I wish to takes this opportunity to call on government to as a matter of urgency include financing mental healthcare services in the National Health Insurance Scheme. When this is done, very poor persons can be treated free of charge while allowing for those capable of paying the insurance premium to do so”.
He further observed that “mental health in Ghana is still under-funded and under-prioritized. The supply of essential medicines needed by people with mental illness to become stabilized is still irregular. Specialists and middle level mental health professionals are still inadequate.
“Research into issues affecting mental health in Ghana is still low. Non-drug mental health services are still very limited. People with mental illness still suffer discrimination, stigma and other human rights abuses, the failure of the formal healthcare services has given rise to a thriving non-formal health sector operated by traditional healers, spiritual and prayer camps in our communities”.
The regent of Yendi charged all Chiefs in the region to ensure the mentally challenged persons are protected from all acts that make them second class humans.
“My attention has been drawn to some unacceptable practices leading to the abuse of people with mental illness and epilepsy. Whereas some are made to drink and bath concoctions against their will, others are made to fast continually for several days as part of the treatment protocol. Others are chained to trees, logs and other immovable objects, thereby violating their dignity as human beings.
“Let me remind all persons living in Dagbon that people with mental illness or epilepsy are human like any of us and action calculated at eroding their dignity will not be tolerated in my jurisdiction.”
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