16.06.2006 Regional News

Lunatics take over municipality

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Sunyani (B/A), June 15, GNA - The Brong Ahafo Regional capital, Sunyani, acclaimed as one of the neatest municipalities in the country, is gradually losing its beauty to the presence of lunatics. The presence of the lunatics does not only mar the beauty of the town, but also poses a health risk and danger to the populace in view of the violent behaviour of some of the lunatics.

These lunatics are mostly seen loitering in the principal streets of the town, at the markets, in residential areas and even hospitals and the Municipal Assembly premises.

A disturbing factor about them is that some of the females are easily seen busily cooking on the shoulders of major roads in the town, posing an environmental risk.

A Municipal Health Directorate annual report released two years ago said it was estimated that the municipality has 150 lunatics, most of them females.

The causes of these mental problems according to the report included drug abuse, which is on the ascendancy in the region, diseases of the brain and broken hearts.

The Municipal Assembly, realising the menace of the presence of the lunatics formed a three-member committee headed by Dr. David Opare, Municipal Health Director and including Mr. Felix Senyo, District Social Welfare Officer and the then Regional Police Commander.

The three were tasked to look at the issue and come out with a possible solution.

Dr. Opare drafted a proposal to round up lunatics in the municipality, house them, give them initial treatment and later send them to Ankaful Psychiatric hospital for rehabilitation for a period of three months.

The proposal indicated that those who would be cured would be integrated into society to reduce the menace.

The committee would later offer recommendation for subsequent action on them and all these would have been done with the support of the families of the lunatics.

Explaining further, Dr. Opare said the exercise would have been sustained and that whilst this was being done, massive education would also have been carried out on radio, churches, mosques, schools, among others, to sensitise the youth on the dangers of drug abuse. He said the main source of funding which should have come from the Assembly for the exercise was not received and they were still waiting. Dr. Opare was of the view that even if half of the funds to be provided for the exercise had been received, "something could have been done about the situation", adding, "just a little help can put most of them back on track".

Mrs. Anna Darling Owusu-Antwi, the out-going Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare said the situation was national-wide as most of the psychiatric hospitals in the country were choked with patients.

She intimated that the Department, which is tasked with some of these responsibilities, lacked expertise, funds and logistics to handle the problem.

"The department is also supposed to work hand in hand with the District Assemblies and the Ministry of Health to tackle the growing menace and all of these have problems of their own", the out-going regional director said.

Mr. Ralio Polkura, Environmental Health Officer in charge of Waste Management at the Sunyani Municipal Assembly, however said the exercise had not been abandoned, though it had not been possible due to financial constraints, and failure to trace relatives of the lunatics whose consent must be sought.

He said the Assembly was determined to carry out the exercise to rid the town of lunatics.

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