Mental patients are being denied essential drugs

More than 300 mental patients visiting Abura Dunkwa Psychiatric Hospital cannot access essential medicines, because they are either not available or expensive.

The hospital says supplies from government has ceased for almost a year and essential drugs for the patients are now being supplied by pharmaceutical companies which is expensive and beyond the reach of destitute mentally ill persons.

“We use to collect the medicines at Ankafo but for almost a year now government has not supplied the medicines and so some pharmacists supply them but it is expensive, many of our patients cannot afford and sometimes most do go back home,” Mr Alexander Turkson said.

Mr Turkson, who is the Abura-Aseibu-Kwamankese District Mental Health Officer, told Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a community durbar organised by BasicNeeds Ghana and Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG) in conjunction with UKAID.

The durbar forms part of a four-year project implemented by BasicNeeds Ghana and MEHSOG to support government to build a national health system that effectively and efficiently respond to the mental health needs of the population.

Mr Turkson said the challenge facing mental health in the area is non-availability of medicines and urged the society not to disown mentally ill persons because they are suffering from any other sickness people go through, adding “it is as dangerous like Ebola Virus Disease which kills people within days”.

He said because the medicines are expected to be offered free the national insurance scheme does not capture it which poses a problem to quality health care for the patients.

Speaking on the theme: “Inclusion of people with mental illness and epilepsy in government social intervention programmes at the local governance level to enhance recovery, participation and reintegration for national development,” Mr Turkson expressed worry that more than 80 per cent of the mentally ill are being excluded from the government social intervention programmes, and pleaded for their inclusion.

He said: “We are pleading through the district chief executive that government social intervention programmes at the district levels such as the NHIA (National Health Insurance Authority) registration for vulnerable groups of people by ensuring that they enjoy the same rights as every other Ghanaian”.

He urged the assemblies to allow the mentally ill persons to enjoy the two per cent common fund for persons with disabilities, livelihood empowerment against poverty and other social intervention programmes. GNA

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