Stakeholders in mental health calls for establishment of health levy to resource Mental Health Fund

Some stakeholders working to address mental health issues in the country have called on the Ministry of Finance to as a matter of urgency institute a mental health levy to resource the Mental Health Fund.

According to them, the establishment of the levy and providing it with adequate funding by the government to serve the Mental Health Fund as described in the Mental Health Act 2012 is the panacea to ending mental health challenges the country is faced with.

This call was made by 32 non-governmental organizations representing the coalition of mental health NGOs at the dissemination meeting on submission of the NGOs joint shadow report on issues of mental health and rights of persons with psychological disabilities in the country.

The event was organized by the MindFreedom Ghana (MFGh) with support of its allies as part of this year’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) initiatives.

Speaking at the event, Executive Secretary, National Council on Persons with Disability, Ms. Esther Gyamfi commended the NGOs joint shadow report team and its consultant for the imitative which “reaffirms the Universality, the Indivisibility, Interdependence and Interrelatedness of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

She underscored the need for persons with disabilities to be guaranteed the enjoyment of their rights in full without discrimination and stigmatization regardless of their status.

The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr. Joseph Whittal, in a speech read on his behalf pledges its outfit support to help deal with issues of mental health owing to its significance while expressing readiness to partner NGOs, CSOs including other stakeholders working in the mental health sector to address challenges.

The Commissioner further assures its outfit’s commitment to the protection of all persons adding, “We would use all legitimate means at the disposal of the commission to ensure that the state improves on its human rights records and take steps to implement the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review”.

In a speech read on his behalf, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani entreated the government to ensure full implementation of the promotion of rights of the persons with mental disorder proposed under the mental health act of 2012 which guards against inadequate funding, collection of user fees, struggling of patients in some faith-based and traditional health facilities including stigmatization and discrimination which remains a major challenge that persists.

While pledging continue support towards the MOGCSP and its agencies especially the Mental Health Authority to achieve its strategic plan of observing human rights approach, he commended the coalition of NGOs and advocates in the country who are working selflessly to advance the effort of ensuring the prioritization of mental health in the health sector and the national development response including ensuring the protection of human rights of persons with mental health conditions and disabilities.

For his part, CEO of the Mental Health Authority, Prof. Akwasi Osei lauded Minds Freedom Ghana for its unflinching commitment towards helping address mental health issues in the country.

While acknowledging the fact that UPR has become a measuring tool to ensure that the country is respecting the rights of persons with disabilities in Ghana, he disclosed that it is imperative for a non-state actor to monitor and provide feedback as to whether the country is doing right or wrong in order to meet its objectives.

The report, which was presented by Ms. Wendy Abbey, a consultant, highlighted among other key findings; the establishment of mental health levy to resource the mental health fund, preventing, investigating and prosecuting inhumane treatment in prayer or witch camps and psychiatric hospitals, provision of health care to persons with mental disabilities and the need to ensure a more comprehensive application of initiatives designed to improve situation of people with disabilities including the LEAP Programme.

Mr. Dan Taylor, the Executive Director of Mind Freedom Ghana revealed that the report would be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council the following day to be considered for an input.

He indicated that his outfit would organize a media launch to officially unveil it to get the needed attention it required.

“Aside that, there would be another session we intend to hold so we can share it with the diplomatic communities in Ghana as a way of letting them about the issues of funding which emerges as a significant factor”

Mind Freedom Ghana was established 18 years ago with the vision to improve the mental health and minds of persons with mental disability in Ghana as well as to promote their human rights and dignity. Its vision is to foster and strengthen links with analogous minded organizations both locally and internationally to harmonize activities and explore diversions of cooperation as well as assistance towards mental and psychosocial disabilities in the institutions and their communities.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) offers a unique platform to periodically examine the human rights performance of the state so that recommendations can be made to address the gaps. It offers NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders working on mental health issues an opportunity to bring their work to the global attention recounting the successes and also the challenges of global and state support.

Source: Joseph Wemakor|Human Rights Reporters Ghana

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