Fully recovered mentally ill patients referred by various law courts to mental health facilities, cured of the ailment, were to face forced ejection soon, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has indicated.
According to him, the continuous stay of such patients at hospitals was having a heavy toll on the facilities amidst scarce resources to manage them.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said for instance, of about 150 patients currently admitted at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital Forensic ward, 100 were referred from the courts and though cured, still remained at the facility.
"We are going to write letters to the Attorney-General, Ministry of Interior, the Ghana Police and Prison Services to come and take their people in the next one month, if not, we will release them to go home," he stated at the inauguration of an 11-member board of the Mental Health Authority in Accra yesterday.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said, "Most of these people are fully cured of their ailment yet continue to live at the facilities. We feed them and they occupy the place and it seems the hospitals are being used as an extension of the prisons which should not be so," he added.
He said the government was committed to improving mental health care through interventions such as "Agenda 111", increase funding to the area and enroll mental health unto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
"We are working assiduously to set up mental health facilities to serve the Northern, South and Middle zones of the country to complement what is in the system. We now have about 50 psychiatrists in the system and we hope to post them evenly soon to advance mental healthcare," Mr Agyeman-Manu said.
The Minister charged the newly constituted board to work hard at increasing advocacy and funding for mental health.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Professor Akwasi Osei, bemoaned that fact that 10 years after the Mental Health Act 846, 2012, was passed, the mental health levy was yet to be instituted.
"The law runs on the establishment of the mental health levy and until we get that, we won't have the full benefit of it. It is the levy that will provide the funding we require for full implementation so with its passage, what was to follow and should be following is the levy to ensure we have adequate funding to run the sector," he stated.
Prof. Osei appealed to members of the public and corporate entities to support the Authority in the discharge of its mandateto promote the rights and quality treatment of persons with mental disorder to ensure they realise their full potential in life.
Legal Consultant and Chairman of the Board, Mrs Estelle Matilda Appiah, assured that the board would evaluate the Mental Health Act to push for necessary amendments to enable it live up to its objective.
"We are going to do a review of the Act to come out with policies that will increase funding and other needed resources to prevent brain drain and improve human capacity to protect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of mentally ill persons," she said.