Ghana Experiencing Acute Shortage Of Psychiatric Medicines

Regional Co-ordinators of Mental Health Services in Ghana have lamented about severe and persistent shortage of essential psychiatric medicines for mental health patients in the country in the whole of 2015.

The reported shortage has in many ways affected mental healthcare delivery of the already lackadaisically supported Mental Health Services.

To this end, patients and facilities had no option but to resort to the open market, where prices of such medications are very expensive.

The situation also forced most patients and their caregivers to refuse review visits since they could not afford their medications, and in some cases not get it at all.

These revelations came out when the regional co-ordinators took turns to present their 2015 review reports at the recently held 2016 Annual Performance Review of the Mental Health Service in Ghana.

The review meeting, which was held in Ho, brought together representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Ghana, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Ghana Psychology Council, the Ghana Psychic and Traditional Healers Association, the Regional House of Chiefs, as well as other stakeholders participating for the first time.

It was under the theme ‘Consolidating the new era of Mental Health in Ghana.’

The acute shortage was also confirmed by the Mental Health Authority (MHA) when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Akwasi Osei, presented a review report of the authority. He acknowledged that inadequate supply of psychotropic medicines nationwide, including at regional and community levels, was a major challenge of the authority in ensuring quality mental healthcare delivery.

The discussions at the review meeting indicated that the shortage was mainly due to the lack of funds, which was not forthcoming from the government, as well as bureaucratic procurement processes.

Dr Osei, therefore, assured that the authority is working on the Legislative Instrument (LI) for Mental Health Act 846, with a passing expected later in the year. More so, plans are far advanced to ensure the Mental Health Fund is well managed to support care.

Key directors will also be appointed to co-ordinate the various aspects of mental healthcare delivery, including the efficient supply of medicines.

That aside, the board of the MHA will ensure enhanced and persistent engagement with pharmaceutical companies for the local manufacture of some psychiatric medicines, otherwise known as psychotropics.

Board chairman of the MHA, Prof Joseph Bediako Asare, expressed his appreciation to the Department for International Development (DFID) and WHO for their immense support to the authority. He appealed to other agencies and corporate institutions to lend out any support necessary towards mental health improvement in the country.