Ghanaian Bill Aims To Improve Mental Health Care By Combating Stigma

“A bill before Ghana’s parliament aims to improve mental health care and encourage more health professionals to enter the sector by tackling one of the greatest impediments to both — stigma,” IRIN/Guardian reports. “The draft reforms — developed with support from the World Health Organization — were completed in 2006, but the bill is only now under consideration by parliament,” which “is expected to take it up again when it reconvenes in October,” according to the news service.

“The law would address stigma through education and legal protection of patients’ rights; it would require the education of workers at mental health facilities, including prayer camps, and close monitoring of facilities,” and “would ensure adequate funding for faculties and personnel,” Akwasi Osei, chief psychiatrist in Ghana’s national health service, told IRIN. “Ghana has 12 practicing psychiatrists for a population of nearly 24 million and three psychiatric hospitals. All are in the south, with few options for care outside these facilities,” Osei said, according to IRIN (8/29).