As part of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) efforts in helping implement the recently passed Mental Health Act, it has registered over thousand inmates in the various psychiatric hospitals across the country.
Doing a presentation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) ID cards to the in-mates of the Accra psychiatric Hospital on Monday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA, Mr. Sylvester Mensah noted that "the NHIS is healthier than it was in December 2008."
He said the efforts of the government have helped to elevate the confidence and stature of the scheme, and that the scheme had become a cornerstone in the health care of the country.
According to him, the NHIA has so far registered 711 inmates in the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, 350 at Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in the Central Region, 7,523 inmates in the Tisapaa Psychiatric Hospital in the Northern Region, 82 inmates in the Chosen Rehab Centre at Okaikoi and 254 inmates in the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital in Accra. Lepers in the various regions of the country were not left out in the registration exercise.
According to Mr. Mensah, his outfit has been able to register 119 lepers based at the Ankaful lepers' Center, in addition to 451 lepers registered by the Lepers Aid Committee in the Upper West Region. A further 402 lepers have been registered in the Volta Region, according to official records of the NHIA.
According to Mr. Mensah, the NHIA has begun an ongoing mass registration in the various regions to enable almost every Ghanaian to have access to free health care.
The Chief Psychiatrist of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Akwasi Osei noted that mental health care in the country for the past two years have been going through a tremendous revolution.
He said with the introduction of the NHIS ID cards in the hospital, inmates will have free access to health care even in the absence of their relations financial support.
According to him, the constant neglect of inmates by relations at the hospital due to stigmatization would not deter inmates from obtaining the appropriate medication for them to re-unite with their families.
Dr. Osei noted that since the government so far has been the sole financier of the hospital; inmates have a poor living condition but expressed the hope that with the passage of the Mental Health Bill after eight years of agitation, mental health care would be improved.
The Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Rojo Mettle Nunoo on his part urged the general public to expose drug traffickers as they are the root of the constant increase in rate of drug abusers in the mental hospitals. He said the government and family members of victims ended up spending more of their resources trying to cure the inmates.