The Mental Health Authority (MHA) has underscored the need for establishing a levy that would provide the needed funding to service mental health care in the country.
Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer, MHA noted that the Authority was handicapped due to inadequate resources and the Authority was facing challenges such as feeding of patients and the provision of medication as well.
The Article 88 of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) highlights that the Minister responsible for Finance shall prescribe the appropriate levy or taxation for mental health care funding through Parliament.
Dr Osei said this in his presentation at a forum organised by BasicNeeds- Ghana, on the theme: “Status of Implementation of the Mental Health Law (Act 846, 2102) and the Legislative Instrument (LI)”.
Star –Ghana is supporting a consortium of local Non-Governmental Organisations led by BasicNeeds-Ghana to explore initiatives on improving community mental health services and ensure effective functioning of community health system in Ghana.
It is envisaged that approval of the LI would provide the needed headways and clarity for effective and full-scale implementation of the provisions of the mental health law.
Dr Osei was therefore, hopeful that the mental health care levy, which was called for by the Mental Health Act would be established to provide regular and constant supply of funds.
He said with regards to the implementation process, stigma and discrimination reduced somehow, partnership with prayer camps and traditional healers yielding fruits, less chaining and shackling and human resource greatly increased.
He pointed out that again MHA had seen more cases in the communities than at the psychiatric hospitals, whereas some staff training embarked on, some medications procured this year (since last seven years) and NGOs actively playing roles.
He noted that however, there were challenges, saying the LI was not passed, levy not established, funding remained a problem, prioritisation not achieved and Mental Health Board (MHB) not in place after dissolution.
Mr Peter Yaro, Executive Director, BasicNeeds-Ghana said the overall objectives of the project was to improve community mental health treatment through increased funding to mental health services.
He said among its expected results was an increased budgetary allocation for community health care services; with a key strategy of engaging and collaborating with relevant state institutions including; the Gender Ministry, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Mr Yaro said the activities to match the expected results included, to hold ministerial and inter-ministerial with the Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Health, and stakeholders meeting on mental health financing and develop an action plan for further advocacy works.
He said it also included holding a national forum on financing community mental health to secure commitment for budgetary allocations for community mental health and disseminating findings/ conclusions from inter-ministerial meeting to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, and continuous engagements with ministries for further action.
Professor Joseph Bediako Asare, the immediate past Chairman of the MHB said the non-existence of the Board had contributed to the delay in the implementation of the Mental Health Act.
He described the Board as the governing body of MHA, and pleaded that this aspect was considered quickly, as the delay in the implementation of the Act was becoming embarrassing to Ghana and its partners.
He said as soon as the Board was formed, the Authority would carry on with some aspects in the Act particularly in the area of decentralisation.
“We have gotten to the regional level, and also have to form the visiting committees that will be going to traditional healers and other stakeholders,” he said.
Prof Bediako Asare, who was the chairperson for the forum, also underscored the need to also have tribunals to protect human rights properly; and as well ensure no one abused the mentally ill in the community.