President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday inaugurated an ultramodern building facility for the Psychiatry Department of the University of Ghana Medical School at Korle-Bu in Accra.
The facility, dubbed ‘The Melody’ was named after the first female pilot for the Ghana Airforce, Squadron Leader Melody Danquah who herself suffered from some level of mental depression while in active service and out of service.
It was funded by the Department of Psychiatry with support from the private sector and has been designed with the necessary ancillary inputs to ensure efficient teaching and delivery of mental health services in the country.
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It has among other things a waiting area, consulting rooms, offices, conference and lecture halls, treatment room, pharmacy, picture room and a serene ambience for patient care.
Inaugurating the building, President Akufo-Addo said the country was making positive strides towards the fulfillment of its promise to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all.
He said the government remained steadfast in improving the National Health Insurance Scheme while expanding healthcare infrastructure and enhancing general healthcare delivery.
President Akufo-Addo said the NHIS considered mental health as a matter of justice and equality as such, was working to include it on the NHIS list in order to cater for some of the expenses of patients.
The President explained that the contribution of mental health to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at three per cent, implying that for every GH¢100 produced in the country, GH¢3.00 was attributed to the mental healthcare sector.
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“This will suggest that the sector plays a significant role in the overall economic output of the country,” he emphasised.
Furthermore, the President said seven per cent of the country’s GDP was lost annually by ordinary Ghanaians reporting a lack of wellness.
“It is programmes such as those manned by the Psychiatry Department and having a place like this to run to that whittles away the loss of seven per cent of GDP and allows us to be more productive as a nation,” he stressed.
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President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaians must acknowledge the challenges that existed with the mental health sector, stressing that “many Ghanaians still lacked access to these critical mental health services.”
He said it was in this light that his government had committed to constructing two more psychiatric hospitals in Kumasi and Tamale to serve the needs of the northern and southern belts.
“Statistics shows that only three per cent of patients that need care, receive it from orthodox psychiatric settings. Geographic barriers, economic challenges and training opportunities as well as inadequate infrastructure contribute to this disparity,” he added.
Nonetheless, the President said his government was making significant strides in addressing these challenges.
“We have prioritised mental health and increased funding by over 200 per cent over the course of the last six years to support comprehensive care,” he said.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said the inauguration of the state of the art facility aligned with the vision of the Ministry of Health (MoH).
He said MoH had made remarkable strides in mental healthcare services to countries in the sub-region.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said government would continue to offer financial support to hospitals to improve mental health services in the country.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL