Psychiatric units in the Region are in dire need of psychotropic drugs to improve on the health care needs of psychiatric clients, Mr Edem Quarshie Ameglah, the Upper East Regional Mental Health Coordinator has said.
He said for the past five years, the free supply of psychotropic medicines (mental health drugs) by government was a challenge, and had led to relapses in some clients, while conditions of others worsened as a result of the lack of the drugs.
Mr Ameglah who made the disclosure in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga said it was expected that with the passage of the Mental Health Act 846, there would be improvement in supplies.
Mr Ameglah recalled that, “last year, when we requested for medicines from the central medical stores in Accra, we got only some few quantities of the psychiatric treatment drugs, and added that, “from the list, there was no anticonvulsants. Meanwhile, we have so many clients who have seizure disorders and epilepsy”.
He observed that when some clients are given prescriptions to buy their medicines, they do not buy them, and after some months, they return to ask if the free medicines are in. If you say no, they go back because they do not have money to buy.”
Mr Ameglah noted that the shortage was not limited to only the Upper East Region, but was a nationwide challenge.
The Coordinator said the lack of psychotropic drugs had among other challenges led to high rate of defaulters in the Region.
“Mr Ameglah said it was a challenge for his unit because “we are not getting the results in the improvement of our clients, it is just like we are in a circle, going round instead of moving forward.”
He encouraged clients to visit mental health units “because the units do not only issue medications to clients, they also offer proper care and advice on mental health conditions”.
He said there were reported cases of attacks on relatives with cutlasses by some psychiatric clients, which led to deaths, and indicated that it was because some clients could not afford to buy their medicines.
“If patients are on psychotropic medicines, it has to be continuous and consistent. Once one goes out of it, it has the potential to make some clients aggressive.”
The Mental Health Coordinator cited examples of inconclusive medications and said “If for instance, a client is on olanzapine or any of the antipsychotic medications, that will help stabilize the psychotic symptoms of that client, the person begins to hear commanding voices to attack people they perceive would want to harm them, and may act according to the voices they hear.”
Mr Ameglah called on relatives of mentally ill clients to desist from calling them names such as “mad man” but show them love and care because mental illness could affect any member of the family.