MOH launches WHO AIMS Survey to collect Mental Health data

The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday, launched a survey to assess Ghana’s Mental Health System using a method developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), known as the Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (AIMS).

The WHO-AIMS tool was intended to provide a baseline for monitoring the change in the mental health system through the collection of essential information to improve upon services in the country.

Mr Joseph Adomako, a Director of Administration, MOH, in an address read on behalf of the Minister of Health, Mr Alban Bagbin, commissioned about 20 trained field researchers, who would be dispatched to the various regions to collect information from various related sources, including national, regional and district institutions and organizations as well as from individual mental health facilities.

He explained that the MOH had mandated the Kintampo College of Health and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust of Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK), as partners to undertake the survey whose outcome would not only provide a baseline for planning, but also elicit deficiencies in the mental health delivery in Ghana.

Mr Adomako noted that the unique collaboration between Ghana and the UK in training new mental health workers for the country would help shift focus from large psychiatric hospitals, decongesting the system and moving care into the community where it was most needed.

“This means more patients will receive treatment than ever before”.

He stated that it was heartwarming that after a long neglect of mental health care delivery in Ghana, the country was now entering an era where concrete steps were being taken to address the short comings.

He affirmed government’s commitment to improving the mental health system of the country, citing interventions such as an increase in Psychiatric input in the training of Undergraduates in all medical schools to attract Doctors into the specialty, while enrollment into Diploma in nursing had also increased.

He said the Kintampo College of Health had introduced a new course to produce Community Mental Health Officers (CMHOS) and was training Medical Assistants in Psychiatry (MAPS) also under the programme by the Kintampo College of Health.

Mr Adomako said to complement those efforts, the School of Medical Health Sciences of the University for Development Studies, had also trained Prescribers with some expertise in the management of other health conditions, to operate within rural communities in the Northern part of the country to complement the efforts of the medical Officers, who were being trained.

He said the MAPS would serve as key mental health practitioners in the Regions and Districts.

Prof. Joseph Asare, Former Chief Psychiatrist, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, said the outcome of the survey would also help in the development of services that would be appropriate for Ghana as a middle income country and further provide a guide in the implementation of the Mental Health Act.

He indicated that steps had been taken to improve upon the manpower situation of the mental health sector, adding that,“the first batch of 100 CMHOS had already been deployed at many health facilities particularly in the Sub-districts.

He said the survey would be organised over a period of four months and gave the assurance that the results would be ready by February 2013.

He urged the public to cooperate with the survey team as they approach them for the necessary information. GNA

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