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‘Threats’ force gov’t to release part of 2018 budget for mental health sector

Government has released its first budgetary allocation to the Mental Health Authority following a seeming threat to introduce ‘cash and carry’ at psychiatric hospitals due to non-release of funds, six clear months into the year.

The three hospitals across the country have since January 2018 been surviving on the benevolence of philanthropists and suppliers.

The Authority itself has been running on donor support from DFID, which is expected to end on June 30, something officials said was likely to cause a shutdown the Authority.

READ:We’re all surviving on meager donor support – Minister

Chief Executive of the Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei told TV3 at the weekend that the situation was threatening the country’s mental health system.

“The mental Health situation in terms of finances is dire; dire in the sense that we are already in the middle of the year and have not had any financial releases by the ministry [of Health]”

Read: We’ve not received even a pesewa from gov’t – Mental Health Authority boss laments

“On the part of the psychiatric hospitals, they will also not be able to admit patients. In their case, not so much because of donor funding being cut but the sense that they are also not getting the support, the releases from the ministry” he stated.

But three days after the seeming threat, the Health Ministry of Health on Monday notified the Authority that government has made some releases to the sector.

READ: Psychiatric hospitals likely to start ‘Cash & Carry’ by July

Appearing on TV3’s Midday Live with Afua Tieku, Dr. Osei said “I must say that very fortunately, jut this afternoon I had a call from the minister of health that some releases have been made to the Authority and also to the psychiatric hospitals”

He said though they are yet to know the amount that has been released, if they get anything in the region of GHC2 million for a start, “it wouldn’t be bad for the three hospitals…we will see how we will manage”.

Dr. Osei said the hospitals have been living on credit from suppliers and that once they receive the funds from government they will use part to pay off their debts.

“What we are going to have today, part of it will be used to pay off the debt that we have,” he said, pointing out that it isn’t like they take delight in making sure the Authority shuts down.

He indicated that if the DFID support is not renewed this year, the government would have to go “full length to give us the funding, unfortunately”.

Dr. Osei wants government to go by the sustainable means of funding the sector as enshrined in the mental health law.

“We need to get a certain sustainable means of funding which will make sure that we will continue to survive and not having to shout and cry,” he stated.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana

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