The state of Ghana’s mental healthcare as it stands now is nothing one cannot be proud of. And this has come about as a result of the government’s neglect of that critical sector of the health system.
It was therefore no shock to us when President John Dramani Mahama admitted on Sunrise radio in the Eastern region last Monday that he was unaware of the current challenges that had led to a strike action by the nurses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
The President’s priority, we believe, does not include seeing to it that adequate medical supplies are provided for the upkeep of these patients.
Two weeks before embarking on the ongoing strike action, the nurses had served notice to the authorities about their intended action, but clearly there was no one in Mahama’s government interested in helping to avert the current situation, or brief the president about the situation.
The nurses, after waiting for the authorities to address their complaints with regards to the indecent and hazardous conditions under which they work, and thus exposing them to danger, had no choice than to withdraw their services.
These nurses were not asking for increase in their salaries; they just wanted medical supplies that would facilitate the smooth execution of their duties. But, that was not an issue of concern to the government. This is a clear case of gross insensitivity to the plight of the mental health patients and their caregivers.
And, President Mahama’s admission that he was unaware of the situation undoubtedly shows that he doesn’t have a full grasp of affairs and happenings in the country as expected of a good leader.
Sadly, when one listens to the plight of the nurses, one cannot help but only wonder if President Mahama and his government represent the interest of the country.
Why should access to common gloves, pens, pencils and books become a problem that could compel these hardworking nurses to withdraw their services? Yet, we have a government that pats itself on the back and says it has changed lives and transformed the country.
The freebies and monies being shared for votes could have been channeled into addressing the challenges these patients and nurses go through. The nurses and the patients also matter. They are Ghanaians just like those being offered freebies by President Mahama and his functionaries.
Back in August this year, management of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital restricted patient admissions to critical and emergency cases due to lack of funds, food and some medical supplies to run the hospital.
This should have been a wake-up call to the government to act if was serious about tackling issues confronting the nation, instead of allowing the situation to reach a point where mental health patients are being discharged from the hospital when they are supposed to kept at the facility.
The danger the discharged patients pose to the public is another issue that must worry everyone. Most of these patients get aggressive in between times when they do not get access to certain drugs. But, this is what we have had to live with, because we have a president who is out of touch with the real issues confronting the country.
Source: The New Statesman
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