President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commissioned a state-of-the-art building for the Department of Psychiatry at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, a remarkable addition to Ghana’s healthcare infrastructure.
The building, built by the initiative and drive of the Psychiatry department, formed external partnerships, and brought into live, an infrastructure that would provide mental patients, a place to seek help, inspire medical students to enter the field of mental health, as well as afford teachers and researchers, a platform to seek new knowledge for the country’s future.
The state-of-the-art facility, houses a conference room, student lecture hall, faculty research offices, a serene waiting area conducive to teaching and learning, threading consulting rooms, therapy rooms, treatment rooms, a pharmacy, and an observation room.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony Tuesday, President Akufo-Addo said the edifice symbolises a beautiful partnership between public institutions and the private sector.
This impressive structure, according to the President, that would serve both the University of Ghana medical school, and the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, stands out as a tribute to the memory of Squadron Leader Melody Millicent Danquah, a trailblazing woman, who made history as the first female Military pilot in sub-Sharan Africa in the 1960s.
Her story, President Akufo-Addo disclosed, served as an inspiration not only to people living with mental illness, but also, to those who persevered, thrived, and achieved their full potential in life.
“Today, we celebrate the indomitable spirit of individuals, who faced mental health challenges and found the strength, nonetheless, to leave a fulfilling life, he stated.
President Akufo-Addo assured that Government would remain steadfast to improve the national health insurance scheme, expand healthcare infrastructure, and enhance general healthcare delivery.
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), according to the President, must consider it as a matter of justice and equality, to include the more serious mental health conditions onto the NHIS list.
That, President Akufo-Addo argues, would enable some of the expenses of mental health patients be covered by the Scheme. “This is good news indeed.”
Shedding lights on a few crucial aspects of mental health in the country, President Akufo-Addo disclosed that the contribution of mental health to the country’s GDP, is estimated at three (3) per cent.
“Simply put, for every 100 Ghana Cedis produce in Ghana, three (3) Cedis is attributed to the mental healthcare sector, which suggest that the sector plays a significant role in the overall economic output of the country.”
Speaking to a research conducted in the mental healthcare sector in Ghana by Professor Angela Ofori-Atta and others, the President indicated that some 7 percent of the country’s GDP is lost annually by ordinary Ghanaians reporting a lack of wellness.
That, he maintained, is imperative that programs ran by the Psychiatry department should afford people who suffer mental illness to seek healthcare, and, “allow us to be more productive as a nation.”
Many Ghanaians, the President re-emphasised, still lack access to these critical mental healthcare services.
Statistics shows that only 3 percent of patients suffering mental illness are able to access treatment from orthodox Psychiatry settings —geographic barriers, economic challenges, stigma, limited human resource and inadequate infrastructure, among others contributes to this disparity.
Nonetheless, President Akufo-Addo assured that his Government is making significant strides in addressing these challenges, adding: “we have prioritized mental health and increased funding by over 200 percent over the course of this last 6 years to support comprehensive care.”
The Mental Health Act (Act 846) passed in 2012, according to the President, had led to a more coordinated and efficient approach to mental healthcare delivery in the country.
The Act, he maintained, had also empowered individuals with mental health conditions to leave within their communities with the support of their families.
It had also focused on human rights which had ensured that people with mental health problems are treated with dignity and respect.
In 2019, the Legislative Instrument (LI) for mental health was passed into law which established the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders, including the government, private sector, and civil society.
The Mental Health Authority, established then, was clothed with the responsibility to oversee to its implementation and ensure its effectiveness.
Government, from 31st March, 2023, took a significant step towards mental healthcare services delivery by decriminalising suicide in Ghana.
This progressive move, according to President Akufo-Addo, will help reduce and remove stigma, improve access to care, and enhance the outcomes of individuals, struggling with suicidal thoughts and bahavours in the country.
He commended the private sector and non-governmental organisations for their substantial investment and invaluable role in providing mental healthcare services to the underserved populations.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD