Lack of funding forces psychiatric hospitals to charge fees ‘illegally’ – Akwasi Osei

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Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority Akwasi Osei, has said the lack of funding by government to the psychiatric hospitals in the country forces the institutions to charge fees from patients which were supposed to be free as sanctioned by the constitution of Ghana.

He pointed out that according to the law, if one has a ward or a family member who has mental health issues, the norm was to just take such a ward or family member to any psychiatric hospital and just drop them there without paying a dime for admission.

Dr Osei said the reality is that the fees were supposed to be free for the citizenry but government has to provide adequate funding to cater to the bills incurred by the citizenry at the various mental health institutions dotted around the country.

He lamented that because government has not held its part of the bargain by providing funds for the authority to take care of the psychiatric institutions in the country they are left with two options, to either deny admission to patients or to admit them and let them pay for it, which in his opinion is illegal.

Dr Osei disclosed that right now when a patient is taken to the psychiatric hospital they must be prepared to pay a fee of not less than GHC500 to 1000 before they will be admitted for treatment and care.

He pointed out that he has been complaining to the politicians to address this perennial problem facing his outfit but to no avail. He said almost every minister and parliamentarian of old and now can attest to how much he has been harassing them on the subject.

Dr Osei appealed to the media to team up with his outfit to enforce the passing of the Mental Health Levy in parliament to resolve this hurdle in his outfit.

He said the day the Mental Health Levy will be passed will be the end of the “illegal” charging of fees from patients by the various psychiatric hospitals in the country.

Dr Osei made this revelation in an interview with Alfred Ocansey on the Sunrise show on 3FM on Thursday, August 19.

He was speaking of the back of the lack of willingness by parliamentarians to pass the Mental Health Levy into law so government will provide funding for various psychiatric hospitals under the auspices of the Mental Health Authority in the country.

“The reality was that if you had a ward with a mental health problem you just take him there without  a pesewa and everything will be provided free of charge.

“The reality was that it should be free for you but government has to pay for it but government has not been providing funds adequately so we are faced with two options: when you bring somebody there, either you have GHC500 to a GHC1000 on you before the person will be admitted.

“Everything is tokenism, just a token that we are given, we are working on donations, philanthropy and illegal charging of patients”, he charged on the Sunrise show.

By Barima Kwabena Yeboah|3news.com|Ghana