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Include mental health in NHIS benefit package, go beyond rhetoric – Mental Health Alliance to gov’t

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The Mental Health Alliance is glad that the Mental Health Review Tribunal has been re-established. The Mental Health Alliance has meanwhile requested the expansion of the Tribunal to other regions.

Additionally, the Mental Health Alliance demanded the inclusion of mental health care under the National Health Insurance Scheme.

This was contained in a statement released by the Mental Health Alliance and copied to the website on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day.

“The Mental Health Alliance is glad that finally, the Mental Health Review Tribunal and Regional Visiting Committees have been established as required by law, indicating that our calls have been heeded to. The Parliament of Ghana also passed the Amended Criminal and Offences Bill 2022 to prohibit witchcraft accusations in Ghana. A lot remains to be done since the Mental Health Review Tribunal is only functional in three regions, while the Regional Visiting Committees have been operationalised in only 5 regions, The Amended Criminal and Offences Bill 2022 is yet to receive Presidential assent.”

“On the occasion of this year’s World Mental Health Day celebration, the Mental Health Alliance calls on the Government to address the following as matter of priority: Ensure that the Mental Health Review Tribunal is fully operational and that Regional Visiting Committees are established in all 16 regions of Ghana, rather than the existing 5 regions. Resource the Mental Health Review Tribunal and Regional Visiting Committees to enable them to protect the mental health of Ghanaians as a human right. Include mental health in the NHIS benefit package and go beyond the rhetoric. Promote mental health in the Universal Health Coverage Strategy of Ghana,” portions of the statement read. 

Making further arguments on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East in line with the above statement, Dominic Wunigura with Basic-Needs Ghana, Accra, explained that it is unfortunate that patients have to pay “out of pocket” for mental healthcare. 

“The service for mental health is supposed to be free. People are not supposed to pay for mental health services, but we know that that is not the case. People continue to receive prescriptions from mental health officers and have to pay out of pocket for services. That is, to me, a very big challenge for us as a country.”

“When you consider the health budget that Parliament approves in support of mental health services, it is just 1 percent of the entire health budget. And even with that, this 1 percent goes largely to the psychiatric facilities, leaving the community mental health services worse off. It is like that for the entire country, but for the northern zone, middle belt, and volta zone, the situation is worse,” he said. 

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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