A Public Education and Investigative Officer at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice CHRAJ) in the Northern Region Inusah Iddrisu, has cautioned the general public to respect the civil liberties and human rights of persons with mental illness and epilepsy (PWMIE).
According to Mr. Iddrisu, any citizen of Ghana who suffers from any form of mental illness or epilepsy still have their basic human rights and freedoms intact for them to enjoy, and such rights must be respected by their families and other members of the public as stated by the country’s Constitution.
Facilitating a sensitisation workshop at Walewale in the West Mamprusi District in the Northern Region, he urged chiefs, religious leaders, police and health personnel to help government in its quest to fight the social stigma and abuse of PWMIE in their respective communities and workplaces.
He stressed that, it was a crime to beat, torture and deny PWMIE treatment or sack them from their places of work and called on the security agencies such as the police not to delay in seeking justice for such vulnerable people when issues concerning their health and welfare came to their notice.
The workshop, organised by Gub-Katimali Society (GKS) in collaboration with BasicNeeds-Ghana and with financial support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), was part of the implementation of a 5-year (2013/14 – 2017/18) mental health and development project in all 26 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
The project was aimed at supporting the government of Ghana to build a national mental health system that effectively and efficiently responds to the mental health needs of Ghanaians. This would reduce the high mental health treatment gap currently existing in Ghana and enable men, women, girls and boys with neuropsychiatric conditions to live and work successfully in their communities.
|Sheik Yakubu Abdul-Kareem|
The Executive Director of GKS Sheik Yakubu Abdul-Kareem told Savannahnews, that the project sought to increase capacity of Ghana's Mental Health Authority to effectively and efficiently run community based mental health services; and support 100,000 women, men, girls and boys with mental health needs to access quality mental health services within the proximity of their communities.
He also explained that, the project would ensure an organised and active mental health service user and care-giver movement got involve in mental health service and policy advocacy in Ghana; and the reduction of social stigma and discrimination towards mental health and women, men and children living with mental illness and epilepsy.
He indicated that, so far the project had benefited over 853 people in 17 communities in four districts comprising of 209 mentally ill patients, 304 epileptic patients and 340 primary caregivers had been interacted with in various ways.
GKS, through the DFID project, Sheik Abdul-Kareem noted, had also organised training and capacity building workshops for 486 PWMIE and their caregivers in all four districts. “Also, about 31 community volunteers have been identified and are asked to offer support to caregivers whereas 104 traditional healers from Tatale-Sangule and Kpandai Districts sensitized in best treatment practices”, he said.
Gub-Katimali Society (GKS) is a grassroots non-profit-making organization founded in 1991 by a Northern Ghanaian citizen committed to bringing change to the vulnerable and downtrodden. GKS also seeks to sensitise, empower and enable local communities, to realize their own development through collective participation, partnership and pooling resources together for sustainable development.
Currently, GKS currently operates in 17 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the Northern Region and has since its establishment and with the support of its partners such as Trull Foundation, US, Charity of Rebecca, Hope for Children and Village Aid UK, and BasicNeeds-Ghana.