ARCHBISHOP Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, has advised people to take their mentally ill relatives, to the psychiatric hospital for treatment instead of sending them to prayer camps.
He said that punishment often meted out to the mentally ill by some pastors under the guise of healing or exorcising them, left much to be desired.
Addressing this year’s annual general and scientific meeting of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra yesterday, the Archbishop called on medical doctors to educate faith-based organisations on mental health.
The theme of the event was, “Mental health in Ghana: New approaches to an old problem”.
Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle was, however, not enthused about people spending lavishly on funerals when the money could be channelled to profitable ventures that would be of benefit to the family members of the dead.
The Archbishop, who intermittently interspersed his speech with jokes to relieve the gathering who were mostly medical practitioners of mental stress, commended them (doctors) for their invaluable services to the nation.
He appealed to the health institutions to involve the churches and mosques in the Annual Mental Health Week Celebration, to create more awareness that mental illness was a medical problem which needed urgent medical attention.
The Minister of Health, Mr. Alex Segbefia said “we need a system that will clearly focus on early intervention, particularly for children and young adults rather than one that focuses on crisis management and damage control”.
He suggested to the College of Physicians and Surgeons to find innovative ways of causes of mental illness and mental retardation because it was the surest way of tackling mental illness.
“The reality is that in this area of healthcare, we may need to increase by several folds in the next decade, the number of professional and sub-professional personnel who work in this field.”
Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule, Rector of the College, appealed to the Ministry of Health to settle its huge indebtedness to the college as soon as practicable to enhance academic work.
This is having a crippling effect on the ability of the college to meet its statutory responsibilities and to effectively carry out its mandate.
“The college would, therefore, like to appeal to the ministry and agencies that have sponsored residents to make good on their commitments to the college,” he pleaded.
The President of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professor Anyetei Tonyeli Lassey also made a passionate appeal to the Faculty of Public Health to effectively engage stakeholders in the fight against cholera in the country.
He said that the ban on employment had a toll on the health sector as competent Ghanaian medical doctors walked the streets jobless and appealed to the government to “consider it favourably as it would relieve it of some of the outstanding problems with the sponsorship of residents in particular”.
“It is worrying that there are competent but unemployed Ghanaian doctors here in Ghana where it has been estimated that the doctor-to-population ratio stands at one doctor to 11,929 people. This is a far cry from the World Health Organisation’s recommended minimum of one doctor to 1,000 people,” he stated.
By Castro Zangina-Tong