Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama says he is unaware of the current crisis at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital that has led to a strike by the nurses.
Health officials at the facility, particularly nurses, have for months been agitating over lack of essential and basic medical supplies and logistics such as drugs for patients and hand gloves for nurses as well as poor environmental conditions.
Last month, accumulated debt forced the Hospital to suspend all its outpatient services. Currently, authorities say they rely heavily on the benevolence of philanthropists to run the facility.
The nurses say they can no longer expose patients and themselves “to high risk of infection,” hence the declaration of a strike on Monday, noting “we have been compelled to put our safety above all topics”.
But speaking on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s Sunrise Radio in the Eastern Region, President Mahama said the issue has not come to his attention.
“No, it hasn’t come to my attention yet. But I do know that the area of mental health is one of the areas we need to focus [our] attention,” he said.
Notwithstanding, he has assured immediate steps would be taken to resolve the issues at the Hospital, saying “I’m going to call the Minister of Health after this programme, to see what the issues are and see how we will resolve them,” he said.
President Mahama said the issue of mental health needed to be given attention because “psychiatrists tell us that all of us have a bit of madness in us and that, somehow, we all have some mental disorder or the other. So, it means it is something we need to pay attention to”.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the Accra Psychiatric Nurses’ Association, Philemon Anto, said on 3FM’s morning show Sunrise that although the nurses have sworn an oath towards their work, they could not risk their lives at the current state of the hospital.
“Yes, it is true we have made oath but we cannot subject ourselves to constant threat and danger. Our job demands emotional needs for the patients and other things, and we have done this over the years. Now, we are demanding for basic logistics to work with,” he said.
By Solomon Mensah|3FM|3news.com|Ghana