Dr Mensa Otabil, the General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), on Saturday presented a cheque for Ghc200,000 to the Mental Health Authority to procure Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) machines for the three psychiatric hospitals in Ghana.
The money will cover the entire cost of procurement, installation and training of technicians to operate the ECT machines at the Accra Psychiatric, Pantang and Ankaful hospitals to improve mental healthcare delivery.
Electro-Convulsive Therapy, formerly known as electroshock therapy, is a psychiatric treatment in which epileptic seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from mental disorders.
It is a medical treatment for severe depression, mania and schizophrenia.
The support by the ICGC forms part of the Church’s 35th Anniversary celebration, on the theme: “35,000 Pairs of Feet: Celebrating 35 Years of Influence.”
It was commemorated by the 15th Edition of the annual fitness and charity walk, christened; “Generational Life Walk” to promote the health and physical well-being of members.
Giving the reason for the support, Dr Otabil said the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwesi Osei, appealed to the Church to procure an ECT Machine, which was a critical life-saving equipment needed in all the psychiatric hospitals.
He said the Authority made the appeal when the Church embarked on a fact-finding mission with it, earlier this year, to see how best to support in its healthcare delivery.
Dr Otabil said the discussion revealed that more than 41 per cent of Ghanaians had some form of psychological distress adding: “In 19 per cent of these cases, approximately one out of every five Ghanaians, the distress was moderate to severe, which was enough to give rise to mental illness.”
The loss to national productivity, resulting from mental and psychological distress, is estimated at seven per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Statistics from the Ghana Statistical Service revealed that the country is losing approximately 18.55 billion Ghana cedis annually through mental related distress.
Based on this, Dr Otabil said the ICGC took up the challenge to assist the Authority in its quest to deliver effective services to the populace.
The ICGC has undertaken several charitable causes over the years, with the biggest beneficiary being the Children’s Cancer Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
“Over the past nine years, ICGC has supported the Children’s Cancer Unit, every month, with funds towards the purchase of medication for treatment of the children. This has led to a reduction in the percentage of children forced to abandon treatment for financial reasons from a whopping 48 per cent in 2010 to less than nine per cent in 2017,” Dr Otabil said.
“As a church, we are humbled by what God has done in our lives. As we ponder over 35 years of leadership, vision and influence, we remain grateful to God and convinced that the best years are ahead of us”.
He commended all ICGC assemblies and congregations for raising the money to support mental health and for participating in the walk.
He encouraged the public to adopt a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a weekly fitness regime, saying: “You are not too old or too young to exercise. The efficacy of exercising is not in its intensity but in the frequency. Make exercising a part of your weekly routine”.
Dr Osei, who received the cheque on behalf of the Authority, commended the Church for the spirited love shown and pledged to put the money to the appropriate use to improve mental healthcare delivery.
He said though mental healthcare had improved, there still remained a lot to be done in finances and equipment, adding that ICGC’s support would go a long way in addressing those challenges.
Dr Osei said about 2.7 million Ghanaians, representing 10 per cent of the population, had mental illness, which was just like malaria or any other illness and had no supernatural causes.
Some of the participants who took part in the walk, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, expressed satisfaction with the event.
A member of the ICGC Christ Temple, Abossey Okai, Madam Abigail Antwi, said she had participated in the walk for the past three years, had been a good health booster.
The 12 km walk started from the Independence Square through the National Theatre, Ridge Roundabout, the Ako Adjei Interchange, the Oxford Street, Osu, and back to the Independence Square.
“It was not easy for me but I managed to complete the full 12 km of the walk, due to work, I hardly exercise but the walk has enabled me to do some exercise. It was tough and fun at the same time, especially with the brass band music and the aerobic sessions,” Madam Antwi added.
Another member, Mr George Annorld, said he made the full 12 km even though he felt some slight pains in his thighs and legs.
“It has been a while since I exercised, I need to do regular exercises because any time I walked long distances, I feel some pains in my body.”
Mr Jackson Owusu, from the ICGC Holy Family, Dansoman, said he had participated in all the walks since its inception and it had helped him to release stress and meet other people.
“The exercise has helped me to network with other members, signifying oneness and unity of purpose. I would encourage friends who could not make it to do it next year”.
Ohemaa Mercy thrilled the participants with gospel music as they went through some aerobics and warm-up sessions when they converged at the Independence Square after the walk.
For the first time, the 12km walk was divided into three distances to enable each member to participate based on his or her energy.
Some participants walked for 3km, others 6km, while majority made the full 12km, amidst brass band music.
Medical posts were mounted along the route with the National Ambulance Service at hand to handle any emergency as well as personnel from the Traffic Control Unit of the Motor Transport and Traffic Department, Ghana Police Service, to ensure orderliness.