Mr Sylvester Basagnia, the Acting Upper West Regional Coordinator, Mental Health, has reiterated the urgent need for the government to fast-track the process of including mental health treatment and services into the Nation Health Insurance Scheme.
He noted that discussions were ongoing at the national level to amend the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) to pave way for the mental health services to be covered by the NIHS, but the process had been slow.
Mr Basagnia, who said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa, explained that though the Act had made mental health treatment free, the government was not forthcoming with the medications for the free treatment.
Mr Basagnia said the situation was dire as his outfit mostly relied on donor agencies for the medications for free treatment adding that, mental health patients were still required to pay for psychiatric medications due to the intermittent unavailability of the “free medications”.
If the act is amended, medicines for mental health treatment will be added to the NHIS medicine list and access to the medicines will not be difficult.
“Mental disorder is like any other ailment like hypertension and others and once it is a chronic condition and non-communicable, if the medicines are there, patients can live a normal life like any other person”, the Coordinator explained.
Mr Basagnia, therefore, appealed to the private sector to extend support towards the treatment of persons with mental health conditions by supporting them with the medications.
He also urged the government to live up to expectations by regularly providing his outfit with the needed medications and other services as enshrined in the Mental Health Act to enable them to function effectively.
Available data indicates that the region recorded 39 cases of epilepsy from January to June 2021 as against 45 cases recorded within the same period in 2020, while 16 cases of depression were recorded within the same period in 2021 compared to eight cases in 2020.
Others were 21 cases of schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders in 2021 and 39 in 2020, seven cases of alcohol abuse in 2021 and six in 2020, eight cases of psychoactive substances use in 2021 and four in 2020, and six cases of unspecified conditions in 2021 as against eleven cases in 2020, all from January to June.