Dr Clement Abasinab Apaak, the Member of Parliament for Builsa South, has made a passionate appeal to the Government to provide adequate mental health facilities for the three regions of the north.
He said there was only one psychiatrist stationed at the Tamale Teaching Hospital who was taking care of patients in the three regions of the north comprising the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.
Only 34 psychiatric nurses are serving the over four million population, according to estimates of Basic Needs-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation. Country-wide there are only 600 psychiatric nurses.
According to the Basic Needs-Ghana, research indicate that the northern sector of Ghana, with over 60 per cent of its population classified under the poorest and mostly under-served in terms of mental health services, does not have a single psychiatric clinic or hospital, although it has a large number of mental patients.
“Mr Speaker, the top 10 mental problems often diagnosed in Ghana, according to the 2003 Government Report, include schizophrenia, substance abuse, depression, hypomania, acute organic brain syndrome, manic depression psychosis, schizo-affective psychosis, alcohol dependence syndrome, epilepsy and dementia,” Dr Apaak said on the floor of Parliament.
“Notwithstanding, Mr Speaker, the irony is that, all the three mental health facilities are located in the southern sector of our nation,” Dr Apaak said.
He, therefore, called on the Government, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and all stakeholders to help support mental health by ensuring that more and modern mental health facilities are built in the northern sector of Ghana to ensure that patients had easy access to mental healthcare.
Dr Apaak said the Mental Health Act, Act 846, 2012, among others, sought to provide access to primary care for mental health and provide mental health facilities in deprived parts of the country, adding that not much had been done in that direction.
He said the country could not live in a peaceful and freer environment without addressing the mental health challenges.
“Mr Speaker, establishing mental health facilities in the northern sector of the country and the modernisation of all mental health facilities across the country is a must,” Dr Apaak said.