The Accra, Pantang and Ankaful Psychiatric Hospitals jointly owe their food, medical and other suppliers GH¢10 million, the Head of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Dr. Akwasi Osei has disclosed.
He said the debt, which accumulated over the years, is seriously affecting mental health care delivery in the three psychiatric hospitals, and that the inability to pay all the debt was making it soar higher.
Interacting with the press on the sidelines of the half year review of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in the Central Region on Tuesday, he insisted that the financial crisis in the mental health sector was not being exaggerated but worse than decried.
The Accra hospital owes GH¢4.1 million, while the Pantang and Ankaful hospitals owe aboutGH¢3million each.
The situation last week compelled the Accra Hospital to close its doors to patients’ admission but the Ministry of Health has since released GH¢1.5 million to the MHA.
Dr. Osei said but for the intervention from the health ministry, the hospital would have started decongesting its wards with the Ankaful and Pantang hospitals, taking similar actions this week.
He expressed optimism that the passing of the Mental Health Act, currently in Parliament, would see the establishment of the Mental Health Fund which would bring some relief as enough funds would be available to address all financial needs.
Speaking at the review, he said the country was second in terms of quality mental health in West Africa, and the fourth on the continent and was capable of meeting international standards if given more support.
Dr. Osei said although the authority recognised that there was what he described as economic depression in the country, the situation with the sector was different because unlike the usual hospitals, the psychiatric hospitals do not ordinarily generate funds.
He chronicled how mental health care started in the country and how the situation changed and got worse but assured nurses and other staff that the sector was at a restructuring stage and would rise again albeit not overnight.
Throwing light on the restructuring, he said the authority did not intend to keep more than 600 patients at the three hospitals but would decentralise health care delivery to reduce the stress on the hospitals.
Dr. Osei indicated that mental health care delivery would be made accessible at all the regional hospitals, adding that the new Mental Health Act would encourage public private partnership as part of efforts to make mental health care easily accessible.
Dr. Eugene Dordoye, the director of the hospital in his welcome address said apart from its debts and erratic flow of funds, other challenges included decayed infrastructure resulting in leakages and expiring wiring systems which poses fire hazards.
The hospital is challenged by unavailability and inadequate basic logistics, equipment and both technical and medical staff, poor roads network which made driving and moving patients around difficult and appealed to stakeholders to support the hospital.
The Ghanaian Times observed during a tour of the hospital that quiet a number of the existing facilities have deteriorated over the years and could get worse if the hospital does not get the needed support.
The Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, built in June 1965 by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah with a 500-bed capacity, serves the Central, Western and Ashanti regions as well as some neighbouring countries. It currently has 120 in-patients.
From Jonathan Donkor, Ankaful