Persons suffering mental health conditions must benefit from the three per cent District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) allocated for Persons with Disability (PWD), the Ministry of Health (MoH) has stated.
It has thus cautioned the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to comply with the law, to complement efforts at promoting sustainable care for persons suffering or recuperating from mental illness.
“By their membership of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD), they qualify to benefit from the three per cent share of the DACF as a matter of right but many of such people continue to face challenges in their attempt to access this resource meant for their development,” the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu argued.
He was speaking in a speech read on his behalf by the Head of Quality Management at the MoH, Dr Ernest Konadu Asiedu at a stakeholder forum on “Influencing policy and legislation for sustainable mental health financing in Ghana.”
The forum, organised by BasicNeeds Ghana, a non-governmental mental health and development advocacy organisation sought to sustain momentum at increasing funding for mental health activities in the country.
According to Mr Agyeman-Manu, the Ministry’s National Healthcare Quality Strategy (NHQS), with the goal of improving the health and wellbeing of Ghanaians through the development of a better healthcare system, was keen on placing premium on mental health.
“Government has made some progress in ensuring the inclusion of persons with mental illness in the annual plans and budgets of the MMDAs and in line with achieving universal health coverage, we are working to ensure access to mental health treatment and integrating it in all health facilities across the country,” he noted.
Director of Institutional Care of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Samuel Kaba outlined measures by the service, including re-insuring mental health workers, engaging relevant institutions to train more mental health professionals and embarking on various sensitisations to reduce vices like substance abuse, alcoholism among others which trigger mental health problems.
Dr Kaba who recognised challenges such as insufficient supply of essential medicines for mental health treatment and the inequitable distribution of specialists across the country pointed out that “we are working to ensure that people accept postings to all regions particularly to the Northern sector and address the deficit in drug supply.”
Programme Manager at BasicNeeds Ghana, Adam Dokurugu Yahaya in an address expressed worry that “though mental health care is improving in Ghana, more than 90 per cent of the population still do not receive proper care when they experience any serious mental illness.”
He expressed the hope that through his organisation’s efforts to sustain mental health advocacy through collective civil society activities, the nation would see increased funding for integrated community mental health care at the primary healthcare level to improve the mental health care needs of the vulnerable.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH