Psychiatric hospitals are struggling with funding, a situation that could shortly escalate into a full-scale strike action by mental health care professionals in the country, Head of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwesi Osei, has cautioned.
According to the Mental Health Authority, each of the three main psychiatric hospitals in the country and the Authority, needs about GHS7m per annum to run smoothly, but the sector has not received any form of funding to operate for the first half of the year.
“All along, we thought there is a new government and so we appreciated that it will take a little while, but almost two quarters gone and it is certainly getting too much.
“The situation is horrible, and cannot be worse than it is now. So, the next thing that we might be seeing is an interruption from the nurses which might take various forms; withdrawal of services, strike action, and industrial action. These are the very things that we have been trying to avoid all along,” Dr. Osei said.
The recurring funding challenges in the mental health sector, last year, led to strikes and threats to close down facilities last year. Nurses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital laid down their tools in October 2016, for a little over a week, to press home their demand for what they described as unfair treatment by the government of the day.
They complained of inadequate supply of medicines, and lack of basic logistics resulting in unsanitary working conditions.
To further compound the situation, mental health facilities across the country are saddled with about GHS11m debt as a result of credit purchases over a three-year period.
But Dr. Akwasi Osei said Parliament must pass the Legislative Instrument (LI) which will ensure the operationalization of the Mental Health Act of 2012 (Act 846).
The passage, he said, will allow for the implementation of the details of the Act, which among other things, will specify a mental health levy that will go into a fund to support mental health care delivery.