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Health | Nov 5, 2004

Workshop to review draft Mental Health Policy opens

GNA

Accra, Nov. 5, GNA - The Ghana Health Services (GHS) on Friday engaged media practitioners in reviewing and making inputs into the draft Mental Health Policy, to ensure a comprehensive document that would secure the rights of the mentally challenged.

The draft policy when passed into a bill would among other things promote and provide humane mental health care including prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in a least restrictive environment.

Dr Joseph Asare, Chief Psychiatrist, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, said the absence of certain vital inputs in the existing mental Health Policy had led to the constant abuses of the rights of the mentally challenged. He said the reviewed policy would facilitate the improvement of in-patient; outpatient and community care in a manner that was effective and equitable with other health services and further prevent discrimination and stigmatisation in employment and other social responsibilities.

Dr. Asare called for the establishment of psychiatric departments in public hospitals, especially the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, to help demystify mental health care.

He explained that: "Though there are a number of psychiatrists working in other departments in the various hospitals, because there are no established departments or units of their specialties, they are forced to divert to other areas of health care, leaving the few psychiatric intuitions to carry the load".

He noted that psychiatric care could be provided at any hospital, thus the need to equip the various public hospitals to ensure quality health care for all was paramount.

A mental health review tribunal, he said would be established under the law to speed up procedures and cases of mental disorder.

Dr Samuel Allotey, Director, Pantang Hospital, urge the public to assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration of psychiatric patients into the society, adding that isolating them would lead to further mental agony, which might worsen their situation.

He called for a review of the labour law to spell out clearly the employer's right and position when it got to issues of mental health.

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