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Need to assist mental patients

A DRIVE through the principal streets of the nation’s capital, Accra and other cities across the country would reveal that there are increasing numbers of mentally ill patients roving the streets dangerously.

So grim is the situation that some mentally deranged persons are seen on almost daily basis preparing meals meters away from main streets with no help in sight.

Some of the mental patients have also turned into beggars and are seen asking for money from motorists.

On the Kaneshie to Korle-Bu road for instance, junkies are spotted harassing drivers for money on daily basis.

Female mentally ill patients are reportedly sexually harassed by thieves and people engaged in money rituals.

These and many other inhumane conditions are some of the challenges mentally ill patients face in our part of the world.

We must, therefore, show concern and be committed to helping them. Not long ago, Parliament passed the Mental Health Bill aimed at ensuring best standards in mental healthcare. It has embedded in it, a Legislative Instrument that calls for the establishment of a Mental Health Levy.

The Levy is expected to make available to the supervising authorities the needed resources to effectively implement projects aimed at helping mentally ill patients.

But, the Ghana Health Authority is already complaining about the implementation of the law. A project it initiated to take 6,000 mentally ill patients off the road is currently in limbo.

The project was launched two years ago under the theme ‘operation clear the street and unchain mental health patients’ and was expected to provide shelter for mentally ill patients, treat and send them to their families.

However, due to no cash, the authority is unable to begin and complete the project. The Ministry of Finance under the previous regime failed to approve the authority’s yearly mental health levy of GH¢ 130 million.

If the then government could waste money on the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority and other unprofitable ventures, then it was disappointing that it could not devote resources to support mentally ill patients. The current government should take the necessary steps to secure funds to make this and other projects a reality.

About michael adjei

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