Presbyterian Church opens first psychiatric hospital in Northern Ghana

A 10-bed specialist psychiatric hospital has been opened by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at Bolgatanga in the Upper East region.

The facility is the first ever psychiatric hospital for the five northern regions as the Teaching and Central Hospitals of Tamale only have one unit and one department for mental health patients.

The well-furnished facility, built at a cost of €43,000, was funded by Friends of Bawku, a benevolent group based in the Netherlands and the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

Friends of Bawku paid two-thirds of the total cost of the installation which began in April 2022 and was completed in September 2022, while the Presbyterian Church paid the remaining third of the cost.

The facility, which was opened to coincide with this year’s World Mental Health Day celebration, includes two consulting rooms, men’s and women’s rooms, a nursing station, changing rooms and restrooms for nurses, toilets and an office for administrators, among others.

It is planned to offer adult psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation, geriatric psychiatry and psychotherapy.

The hospital will include electroshock and rehabilitation services in the near future.

Response to the government’s appeal

At a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility yesterday, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante, said the hospital was established as a response The church’s additional to the government’s call on all stakeholders in the health industry to join in its efforts to bring mental health case management to all parties. from the country.

He said mental health issues contribute significantly to mortality through premature deaths from physical disorders and suicides from mental health issues, specifically depression.

He noted that “our church does not view people living with any form of mental illness as less humane, we also view them as deserving of all fair treatment to which every person in the country is entitled.

“We view their condition like any other illness such as malaria or headaches that can and should be treated,” he said, noting “as a church we believe in prayer as well as in medical care as there could be spiritual and physical causes of mental health conditions”.

He pointed out that the church had adopted a policy directive that required all of its prayer camps to affiliate with health facilities so that people with mental health issues receive both spiritual and medical care.

Main responsibility

The moderator said the church had accepted that it was the primary responsibility of the state to provide health services to the people of the country, adding “we also recognize that the state alone cannot accomplish this enormous task. .

“Therefore, we welcome the call for increased private sector involvement in health service delivery to complement government efforts,” he said, noting that “the dedication of this new facility is in line with the church’s desire to help the government expand and improve health service delivery in all parts of the country.

While commending other benefactors who supported the construction of the hospital, he noted that the church would oversee the growth and development of the facility to achieve an enviable position as a preferred mental health facility.

Stop the age-old practice

Hospital manager Dr Dennis Daliri said the new facility would now offer them the opportunity to end the age-old practice of referring common mental disorders that required admission to southern psychiatric facilities.

He said ‘this facility will fill the gaps of having to send nursing students down south for affiliation, adding ‘this new hospital will ensure the positioning of a specialist psychiatrist in the area to oversee all 15 assemblies. municipal and district authorities (MDA). ) In the region.

For his part, a deputy director in charge of administration at the Upper East Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service, Pascal Dongzuing, lamented that there is a shortage of psychiatrists in the country’s health facilities.

He noted that the GHS has put in place the necessary measures to ensure the training of more psychiatric nurses to strengthen the system to provide the best care to mental health patients in the region.

The Speaker of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, Pe Ditundini Adiali Ayagitam III commended the Presbyterian Church for its immense contributions in all sectors to the growth of the region and the country as a whole.

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Jerry B. Hatch