Thursday, May 7, 2015

SOS: Mentally Ill Patients In West Mamprusi District Relapsing

OVER TWO HUNDRED (200) persons suffering from various forms of mental illness and epileptic conditions in the West Mamprusi District in the Northern Region of Ghana, are relapsing due to lack of medication at the Walewale Government Hospital.

According to officials of the Mental Health Unit of the Walewale Government Hospital, the last time the hospital received consignments of medication for persons with mental illness and epilepsy (PWMIE) was in February 2014.

“Medicines such as phenobarbitine, fluphenazine decanoate, olanzipine, haloperidol, cabarmazipine and others which we give to clients are not available at all at the moment. This is making a lot of our clients who have recovered or stabilised to relapse,” Mental Health Officer of the Walewale Government Hospital Adambil-Laar Nixson told Savannahnews when BasicNeeds-Ghana recently presented working tools to some forty (40) stabilised PWMIE in Walewale to go into apprenticeship.

The tools presented to the PWMIE which included, dressmaking equipment, soap making equipment, carpentry tools and among others, were sponsored by Big Lottery, UK and JOAC, UK. Some 35 stabilised PWMIE in the Zabzugu District, Karaga District and Yendi Municipality also received similar tools.  

Ayambire Awinsugya, a Community Psychiatric Nurse who corroborated what Mr. Adambil-Laar told this reporter, also added that between January and April 2015, the hospital’s psychiatric unit had recorded 40 new clients but unfortunately did not have medication for them.

“We don’t have a single means of transport to even go round the communities to monitor and see how old clients are faring. We come to work each day just to sit down drugs to give to clients who travel far and near for their drugs”, Mr. Ayambire lamented.

Mr. Adambil-Laar further added that, though some of the drugs are sold in pharmacies it was only those who could afford that were buying them to treat themselves. But he indicated that, some of the pharmacies were selling fake or substandard psychotic drugs to unsuspecting clients, and appealed to the Ghana Health Service to make new consignments available as soon as possible.    

Mr. Dassah presenting a sewing machine to a beneficiary
The presentation of the tools to PWMIE, according to Projects Coordinator of BasicNeeds-Ghana Timothy Kayelle Dassah, was part of the implementation of ‘Empowering People with Mental Illness in Ghana’ project which started in 2014 and expected to end in 2016. 

The main objective of the project, he said, was to improve the mental health of about 3,700 men, women, boys and girls with mental illness and epilepsy in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana as well as 2,700 carers in poor rural areas to collectively express their needs and self-advocate through self-help groups to have those needs met.  

Mr. Dassah told the stabilised PWMIE to consider it a privilege to be beneficiaries of the project and make judicious use of the opportunity being given to them to learn a skill. “It’s not because you’re special that you’re getting this support but it’s because you’re stabilised enough and can do something to help yourselves”, he stressed.

“Those who will not get this support should not get angry and leave the various groups they belong to. As and when you’re stabilised, you’ll also benefit.

“And let me make it clear that it’s the duty of parents or relatives of direct beneficiaries to pay for the apprenticeship fee of their wards or relatives to enable them go through the training successfully”, Mr. Dassah stated.

Mr. Umar Mustapha, a representative of the West Mamprusi District Chief Executive David Wuni who presented the tools to the PWMIE, admitted that the onus was on government and District Assemblies to provide social protection services to all their vulnerable group of citizens.

But he noted that it hadn’t been the case due to budgetary constraints faced by government and District Assemblies, thereby making it almost impossible to provide services to their people.

“You should therefore be grateful to BasicNeeds for this support that you’re receiving from them. The items are not for sale and neither are you to use it to decorate your rooms. Take very good care of them and also take your skills training serious so that when you complete it you’ll be able to help yourselves and your families”, he advised.  

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