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Report on MEHSOG National Executive Introductory Meeting with the Minister of Health

As part of the Mental Health Society of Ghana’s policy engagements with policy makers and duty bearers, the National Executives of the Mental Health Society of Ghana made up of the Executive Secretary – Mr Humphrey Kofie, the National Vice President-Mr Kassim Larry, the National Treasurer- Ms Doris Appiah Danquah, Ms Winfred Wallace, Okaikoi District Association Treasurer of MEHSOG and Mr Evans Oheneba Mensah- Research Officer of BasicNeeds met with the Minister of Health Hon. Joseph Yilekyere. The Honorable Minster welcomed the members and invited the Chief Director of the Ministry, Dr Sylvester Anemana to be part of the meeting.The Minister enquired from the members, their mission. The Executive Secretary thanked the minster for having time for them and took the opportunity to introduce his delegation. He said they had come to congratulate the minister on his new appointment as the Minister designate for the Ministry, to introduce the Mental Health Society of Ghana to him and to strengthen their working relationship. He said each member was going to ask a question that was critical to their members and the country at large.The first to ask was Evans Oheneba Mensah from BasicNeeds. He said MEHSOG has been following with keen interest the Mental Health Bill and wanted to know from the Minister where the mental health bill was lying at the moment. The Hon Minister said the bill was now outside the control of the Ministry adding that it was now within the domain of parliament. The only challenge in the bill he mentioned was the request for autonomy at the centre or national level with a separate authority and integration at the community level which is believed by technocrats is a contradiction. He however added that the Parliamentary select committee on health was to undertake a study tour of the United Kingdom and South Africa to study more about best practices as far as the Mental Health structure was concerned. He said his ministry and for that matter government was too keen to ensure the quick passage of the bill and assured members that everything was being done to make sure that happens.Next to ask a question was Doris Appiah Danquah, National Treasurer of the Mental Health Society of Ghana whose enquiry was related to the request for the replacement of old psychotropic medicines with modern ones which have lesser side effects. The minister asked the Chief Director of the Ministry “Are we still using the old drugs.” The Chief Director answered that some of them were the old ones but there were a few modern ones, adding that the drug list will be reviewed periodically to include modern drugs Winfred Wallace was next and she talked about the frequent shortage of Psychotropic medicines. The Executive Secretary supported her question, when he added that, a little investigation by MEHSOG did show that the time period between when the medicines run out and the period that the Ministry awards the contract to the pharmaceutical companies to supply the medicines, also contributes greatly to the shortages. On this one, the Chief Director said the problem arises as a result of inadequate data on the rate of usage and request. He added that a logistic unit will be established to monitor the usage and availability of the medicines and it is hoped that the frequent shortage of these medicines become a thing of the past.Next to ask a question was the Vice National President of MEHSOG, Mr Kassim Larry. His question was about the long delay in delivering Psychotropic Medicines to the Northern part of Ghana. The Chief Director said this situation will be taken care of when the Logistics unit is established.The Executive Secretary wanted to know what the ministry was doing to train more community psychiatric nurses and doctors and to retain them since most of them were close to retirement. The minister said the ministry was training more manpower as emphasis is also placed on early specialization. He explained that this will isolate them for special training to be given them. He hinted that there is policy shift in differentials and conditions. This brought the meeting to an end. The Executive Secretary thanked the minister for his commitment to mental health and the all the assurances given. The executives promised to follow up on all the issues discussed to be sure that they were in place. A group picture was taken after the meeting.    Last Updated ( Friday, 26 August 2011 14:29 )
Mendez makes Visits to Ghana Psychiatric Centres and Prayer Camps Priority!

Mr. Juan MendezToday, the Executive Secretary of MEHSOG, Humphrey Kofie, will meet with Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Mr Mendez will be in Ghana until the 14 November. This is his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. Mendez says: “I will engage with decision-makers and key actors on various aspects relating to my mandate, from legislative amendments to the criminal law, including the definition of torture, to encouraging the establishment of a national mechanism for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The Special Rapporteur will also examine prisoners’ rights and conditions of detention, in particular for those spending years in prison either awaiting trial or serving lengthy sentences. “My ultimate task”, he stressed, “is to engage in a constructive manner with key decision makers and leaders in civil society to help the authorities uphold the rule of law, promote accountability regarding allegations of torture and ill-treatment, fulfill the right of reparations for victims, and to ensure that alleged perpetrators are held responsible in conformity with international law.” “I hope that my visit can assist the Government in copying with some of the challenges it faces regarding these issues and in finding solutions that ensure the promotion of human rights and dignity of all persons.” The UN expert is making it a priority to visit psychiatric centres and prayer camps to examine the treatment and living conditions of those with mental disabilities. The Special Rapporteur will also visit other places of detention within the criminal justice system such as police stations, interrogation centres, prisons, juvenile and women’s facilities. He will also examine allegations of abuse of other vulnerable persons, in particular women and children.

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