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Patients roam the streets as Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital wallows in GHC10m debt

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Mental patients still wander in the streets of the Central Region despite thirty-five thousand cedis (35, 000) provided last year to rehabilitate them at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital.

But hospital authority told 3news.com that the facility is handicapped due to an accumulated 10 million cedi debt, which has compelled them to suspend the rehabilitation exercise.

Inadequate recognition given to mental health issues have led to abuse of patients as many wander dangerously on the streets despite the fact that mental health care is supposed to be free.

Due to their instability the males often indulge in certain acts which people mistake them for thieves and beat them, whilst the females are also rapped and impregnated by unidentified persons.

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The World Health Organization has set October 10 for awareness creation of mental health care.

In November 2015, an operation ‘clear the streets’ was launched to treat and rehabilitate vagrant mentally challenged in the Central region at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital and discharge them to their homes.

The GHC35, 000 seed money from the Mental Health Authority was to among other things, put the operation into motion.

Yet almost a year on, the project seems to have failed to restore the dignity of patients even within the Cape Coast metropolis alone and residents are not happy due to safety issue.

“Attempts to drive them away from our shops prove unfruitful and they threatened to beat us up. They are not sane to pay my hospital bills when they harm and disfigure me,” a seamstress Ewura Esi said.

“They normally beg for food or scatter foods of sellers who fail to spread love to them” a worried resident, Lordina added.

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Dr. Eugene Dordoye

But director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital Dr. Eugene Dordoye argued that “…the patients are victims of assaults and not assailants”.

He also said food and medicine shortage is likely to hit the facility by the end of 2016 due to the facility’s indebtedness to its vendors.

The debt and insufficiency of psychiatric doctors are a hindrance that has compelled the hospital to suspend the project, the director noted.

“[The operation ‘clear the streets’] is on hold because we have three psychiatric doctors instead of fifteen. When the sheep which has gone out to feed hasn’t come, you don’t add a flock”, he further explained, “We owe about ten million cedis accumulated from the past three years.”

Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah
TV3’s Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah reports about the challenges facing the hospital

But when asked for what and how the ‘operation clear the street’ funds was used, he answered, “The seed money has been used to train people on the Mental Health Law for them to appreciate the fact that mental illness does not belong to an asylum”.

He defended the need to get people to appreciate what they do in order to be on board. “So we visit communities, high schools and use the media to educate the populace”   Dr. Dordoye stressed.

The Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital provides general mental health services on every Wednesday, but until enough funds are made available, vagrant mental patients will still roam in Cape Coast.

By Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah | 3news.com

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