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Ghana Experiencing Acute Shortage of Psychiatric Medicines

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Regional Coordinators of Mental Health Services in Ghana have lamented about severe and persistent shortage of essential psychiatric medicines for mental health patients in the country in the whole of 2015.

The reported shortage has in many ways affected mental health care delivery of the already lackadaisically supported Mental Health Services.

To this end, patients and facilities had no option than to resort to the open market where prices of such medications were very expensive.

The situation also forced most patients and their care givers to refuse review visits since they could not afford their medications and in some cases not get it at all — and some going through a relapse.

These revelations came out when the Regional Coordinators took turns to present their 2015 review reports at the recently held 2016 Annual Performance Review of the Mental Health Service in Ghana.

The Review meeting which was held in Ho brought together representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) Ghana, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ghana Health Service (GHS), The Ghana Psychology Council, the Ghana Psychic and Traditional Healers Association, the Regional House of Chiefs, as well other stakeholders participating for the first time.

It was under the theme: ”Consolidating the new era of Mental Health in Ghana.”

The acute shortage was also confirmed by the Mental Health Authority (MHA) when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Akwasi Osei presented a review report of the Authority. He acknowledged that inadequate supply of psychotropic medicines nationwide; including regional and community levels was a major challenge of the authority in ensuring quality mental health care delivery.

The discussions at the review meeting indicated that the shortage was mainly due to the lack of funds which was not forthcoming from the government and also bureaucratic procurement processes.

Dr. Osei therefore assured that the Authority is working on the Legislative Instrument (LI) for Mental Health Act 846, with a passing expected later in the year. More so plans are far advance to ensure the Mental Health fund is well managed to support care.

Key directors will also be appointed to coordinate the various aspects of mental health care delivery, including the efficient supply of medicines.

That aside, the Board of the MHA will ensure enhanced and persistent engagement with pharmaceutical companies for local manufacture of some psychiatric medicines otherwise known as psychotropics.

Board chairman of the MHA, Prof Prof Joseph Bediako Asare, expressed his appreciation to the Department for International Development (DFID) and WHO for their immense support to the authority. He appealed to other agencies and corporate institutions to lend out any support necessary towards Mental Health improvement in the country.

Awards for Regional Mental Health Coordinators

Courage Regional Coordinator, Volta Region
Courage Ahorlu Dzage, Regional Mental Health Coordinator, Volta Region

Mr Courage Ahorlu Dzage, received the honor as the best performing regional coordinator for mental health services in Ghana for 2015, he was followed by Faustina Nuako , and Edem Ameglah from Ashanti and Upper East regions respectively.

Courage, a registered mental nurse and the Volta Regional coordinator of mental health services together with his other colleagues received the acknowledgement from the MHA during the opening of the two day performance review.

Responsibilities of Regional Mental Health Coordinators, includes assuming the position as the Head of the Regional Mental Health Coordinating Committee to coordinate mental health activities, an advisory to the Deputy Director of Community Care on community mental health issues, a liaison between the Regional Health Management Team and the Regional Mental Health Coordinating Committee, among others.

Establishing ‘offices’ at the regional level is a community based strategy by the Mental Health Authority to ensure availability of integrated culturally appropriate quality mental health services throughout the country.

The Annual Mental Health Review Meeting is to help mental health services providers, partners and stakeholders to look at how the sector fared in nationwide in the previous year with the view to mapping out strategies to improve the situation in the ensuing year.

Credit: Kwadwo Duodu/Kobby Blay/Ghanahealthnest.com

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