Mr Fred Nantogmah, Knowledge and Communication Officer of BasicNeeds, an NGO working in the area of mental health, has appealed to stakeholders and the government to pay closer attention to mental illness and epilepsy to save lives.
He said mental illness and epilepsy were on the ascendency and stressed the need for state actors and stakeholders on health to work collectively to ensure that equal attention was given to mental health as was being done with HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Mr Nantogmah made the appeal in Tamale on Thursday at a day’s orientation programme organised by BasicNeeds on the theme: “BasicNeeds working with Local Authorities to enhance community mental health”.
More than 50 participants comprising district planners and budget officers drawn from selected district assemblies in the Northern Region attended the European Union -funded programme.
Mr Nantogmah said BasicNeeds was working with local government authorities to increase investment in mental health through district level planning and budgeting under the guidelines of the Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP) to ensure that the efforts yielded good results.
He said BasicNeeds was working with some 74 districts in seven regions and stressed the need for the allocation and access to the two per cent of Disability Common Fund of District Assemblies for Disability People’s Organisations (DPOs).
Mr Nantogmah said at the end of the orientation participants were expected to become better informed of the District Assemblies’ role in inclusive planning and budgeting, become more knowledgeable of action-planning and budgeting for mental health and development.
Mr Timothy Kayelle Dassah, Projects Coordinator of BasicNeeds, said it was important for assemblies to support the construction of structures in district hospitals for mental health as well as support in the procurement of medications (drugs) and other consumables.
He said means of transport (motorbikes) for outreach activities was also important to help in the awareness creation on mental health to improve livelihoods and poverty reduction.
Mr Dassah said BasicNeeds was supporting people with mental health to engage in dry season gardening and block farming for stabilized mental illness while it was increasing its advocacy for the inclusion of people with mental illness or epilepsy to be captured in the Livelihood Empowerment Against poverty (LEAP) programme to improve their lives.
He said mental health was gaining its deserved recognition in Ghana and stressed the need for increased cooperation for effective and collective good to ensure that national NGO as part of the international BasicNeeds family were well placed to play their part in reaching out to support the course. GNA