Mr Kwabena Oku-Afari, Chief Director of the Ministry of Health on Tuesday said government was committed to ensuring structures were in place for the implementation of the Mental Health Policy.
He said government through Agenda 111 would see to the establishment of two new mental hospitals in the middle and northern belts and all regional and district hospitals would have psychiatric wings to bring mental health care to the doorsteps of all in Ghana.
Mr Oku-Afari, made this observation at the opening of the national mental health policy dissemination workshop for stakeholder’s organized by the Mental Health Authority (MHA), on Tuesday, in Accra.
He said the workshop was to set stakeholders on the path to ensure that they were well oriented and educated about their specific roles as stated in the policy, and also to ensure the smooth implementation and success of the policy.
He said the policy recognized the specific role of all stakeholders and the detailed strategies for its implementation which would be monitored to ensure all were on the right path to succeed in its implementation.
Mr Oku-Afari said the purpose of the policy was to provide a framework for supporting the achievement of good mental health for people living in Ghana and not for Ghanaians, saying even though a lot of progress had been made in the delivery of mental health care services, a lot more challenges remain.
“Some of these challenges include; inadequate financing, over centralization, discrimination and stigmatization of mental health staff and inadequate human resources, and the policy seeks to tackle them and make mental health care more up to date and in line with middle income status of the country.”
He said “the policy is aligned to national and international context and also health sector wide perspectives of Ghana and it is equally aligned legally to the 1992 constitution and the mental health Act 2012. And all of this is to ensure that the rights of people living with mental health conditions are protected.”
The Chief Director also noted that the policy was community focused and intended to look at the strength, weaknesses, alternatives and challenges of systems of mental health care and provision of modern and standard health care over a 12 year period.
“A health population is a wealthy one and mental health is total heath. It is a right and a goal and central to the socio-economic development of a country and as such we must all strive to continue improving mental health in the country.”
Mr Oku-Afari urged stakeholders not only welcome the policy, but also strive to implement it so that it doesn’t gather dust on the shelves, saying “with our strong will and eagerness to see improvement in mental health care we must implement this policy and disseminate all the issues in there and with the help of funds from government, we would be able to achieve the objectives and targets of the policy.”
Dr Akwesi Osei, Chief Executive, MHA said the dissemination meeting was to bring together stakeholders responsible for implementing the policy, to educate them on their roles because they were the duty bearers in implementing the policy.
He said the purpose of the policy was to provide a framework for supporting achievement of good mental health for people living in Ghana, while being sensitive to culture, resources and geography, and covers promotion of mental health, prevention and management of mental health conditions for all persons across the life span.
Dr Osei said despite the commendable efforts to improve mental health care in Ghana, there still remained serious challenges including; mental health care being skewed to the southern part of Ghana, inadequate logistics, stigma and discrimination among others.
“The guiding principles of the policy include; evidence, decentralization, integration, holistic care, equity, affordability, human rights, empowerment, partnerships and confidentiality.”
Dr Osei said the successful implementation of the policy to realize its goals depended on activities of all identified stakeholder and so if they get to understand the policy, then they would be able to implement same.
“The policy has been developed for the whole country and would require a lot of people to implement it and not just those who developed it. All Ministries, agencies and institutions responsible must know the policy and the role they will play in its implementation.”