The Mental Health Authority in Ghana has reported increasing difficulties in providing needed medications for psychiatric patients as the budget allocated to the sector continues to plunge.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, Prof Akwasi Osei, explained that the sector only receives an average of just 30 per cent of its annual budget from the government, forcing it to introduce a pay-as-you-go model of operation.
The insufficient approved funding from the government has also affected the payment of facility staff that cater to the rising mental health cases across the West African country.
After the establishment of the Mental Health Act 846 of 2012, the government of the now low-income country, with a population of over 25 million have continued to underfund the sector, despite different calls from health experts to improve funding.
Mental Health Statistics In Ghana
In a 2020 report by the WHO, an estimated 650,000 Ghanaians suffer severe mental disorder and a further 2,166,000 suffer moderate to mild mental disorder, while the treatment gap is “98% of the total population expected to have a mental disorder”.
According to the Mental Health Authority, Ghana currently has 123 mental health outpatients facilities that include: 3 psychiatric hospitals, 7 community based psychiatric inpatient units, 4 community residential facilities and a 1-day treatment centre.
Approximately 38 psychiatrists serve the entire population of Ghana, tipping the ratio of psychiatrists to the Ghanaian population to a staggering 1 psychiatrist per every 800,000 Ghanaians.
From 2012 till the time of this report, the government continues to allocate only 1.4% of the health budget to mental health.
Prof Akwasi Osei of the Mental Health Authority is pushing for the implementation of a Mental Health Levy that would provide reliable funding for the activities of the Authority.
“The Mental Health Levy is very crucial. Our needs are so many that what the Ministry gives would be inadequate. I am sure this levy is so crucial that no Ghanaian will say don’t establish Mental Health Levy. I am sure as you drive every day in the cities and the villages, you see persons with mental illness and you are not happy; they could have been taken to the hospital for treatment if we had the money,” he stated.