Patients requiring medical attention for mental health illnesses in the Volta Region have been left with no other option than to seek treatment elsewhere, as the region has no psychiatrist.
Two years after the retirement of the only psychiatrist in the Volta Region, the region is yet to get another doctor to provide mental healthcare to the people.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), Dr. Akwesi Osei, disclosed that it has been difficult to get a replacement for the retired psychiatrist as the MHA was yet to receive clearance from government to recruit one.
He said although government could have engaged him (the retiree) on contract basis, that could not happen, and so the psychiatrist voluntarily offers his services to patients as and when he is able to.
Only 25 Psychiatrists nationwide
Dr. Osei indicated that Ghana has only 25 psychiatrists attending to the myriad of mental health issues in the country.
He said out of the 25 psychiatrists, there is only one in the Volta Region who is currently retired, three at Ankaful, five in Kumasi and the rest are in Accra,thus, Pantang and the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
Dr. Osei observed that about 20 doctors are currently under training with the hope to be absorbed into the system to support mental health delivery across the country.
He, however, added that although the authority was working on improving the psychiatric doctor to patient ration from 1:1 million to 1:4000, the issue of stigmatisation, discrimination, inadequate incentives for mental health professionals, among others, were making a lot of them divert from mental health.
Dr. Osei blamed the sorry state of mental healthcare in the country on government’s lack of support and prioritisation of mental health issues.
He cited that passing the Legislative Instrument (LI) on Mental Health Levy, for instance, has become impossible although the Mental Health Bill has been passed.
Dr. Osei added that several engagements to get the levy into operation have yielded no results.
For him, without the Mental Health Levy, implementing the bill would be difficult.
Source: Daily Guide