Thought leaders in Tamale have lauded BasicNeeds-Ghana, a mental health and development advocacy organisation, for developing and implementing initiatives to improve the quality of life for people with mental illness and epilepsy.
The quality of its interventions received special commendation against a backdrop of the general negative attitude toward persons with these conditions – which is reflected in the fact that, on average, less than 1.5% of the national health budget is extended to cater for mental health.
This came to light during a stakeholder forum organised by BasicNeeds Ghana held in Tamale, which sought to strengthen the working relationship between the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, mental health self-help groups, persons living with mental illnesses and physical disabilities, as well as their caregivers.
Speaking at the event, the Metropolitan Coordinating Director, Gilbert Nuuri-Teg, said the periodic change in management has historically impeded the Assembly’s ability to properly execute programmes for people with special needs.
He however gave assurance of the Assembly’s commitment to finding a lasting remedy for the situation, and called on persons with special needs, and their guardians, to form groups that would be able to forcefully articulate their needs even beyond the assembly.
Metropolitan Mental Health Assistant Coordinator, Alhassan Iddrisu, said one of the major challenges confronting the facility is the shortage of drugs for patients. As such, only people who can afford them on the market, often at a premium, are able to get the requisite medication. He called on government to help get more of the drugs for the facility to provide quality service to the patients.
On his part, the Operations Manager for BasicNeeds Ghana, Matthew Pipio Eib, said his outfit is committed to ensuring that people with mental illness or epilepsy lead dignified lives; saying they are capable of contributing immensely to their communities.
He added that how a society treats its most vulnerable provides the most accurate gauge of its values. “We directly involve persons with mental illness or epilepsy, and their families as well communities and other organisations, to enhance self-determination and influence public opinion and decision-making on mental health and development,” he said.
BasicNeeds-Ghana implements and promotes initiatives to transform the lives of people with mental illness or epilepsy by providing access to integrated mental health care, social and economic services in the communities of Ghana.
It does this in conjunction with the UK Aid-funded Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme), which engages the Metropolitan Assembly for improved support from the Metropolitan Assembly’s Common Fund, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and other social protection schemes.