BasicNeeds-GHANA THE PASSAGE OF THE MENTAL HEALTH BILL INTO LAW
The Mental Health Bill of Ghana is now Law. The passage of the Bill into Law by more or less a unanimous decision by the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana is refreshing indeed. The debate on the Bill and its final passage showed in every way that Members of Parliament and for that matter Ghanaians are unanimous in the quest for a new Law to ensure reform of the mental health sub-sector of Ghana's health system.
BasicNeeds Ghana expresses our sincerest thanks to all the people and institutions that have made this come to reality, especially the immediate past Minister of Health, Mr J. Yieleh-Chiereh and the current Deputy Minister, Mettle-Nunoo, the Chairman, ranking members and members of the Committee of Parliament on Health, indeed all Members of Parliament, and Ms Estelle Appiah and her colleagues of the Attorney General's Department for their hard work.
This Bill has travelled a long-road and it is the tenacity of many individuals and organisations, many of who BasicNeeds Ghana has worked with, led by the current and former Chief Psychiatrist(s), Dr. Osei, and Dr. Asare respectively, supported by the psychiatrists and mental health workers in and outside Ghana, the World Health Organisation, the media and many well-meaning people that has brought us to this point. BasicNeeds Ghana is happy to have been part of discussions and fora, lobbying and other relevant contacts, and as well keenly followed goings-on in the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General and the select Committee of Parliament on Health to get the Mental Health Bill become Law.
The Mental Health Law now requires the Presidential assent and we are hopeful this will happen without delay. The commitment of His Excellency, President John E. A. Mills and his government show this will happen for effective implementation to commence.
It is clear that the coming into being of the Law ushers in a new chapter in mental health care policy and service delivery in Ghana. It will ensure integration of mental health in all health services and policy initiatives more than before. It will significantly end the tokenism and after-thought that the mental health sub-sector has had to contend with over the years. Most importantly for BasicNeeds-Ghana is that this Law adds impetus for development programmes to factor in the needs, rights and aspirations of poor people with mental illness and their families. It will encourage civil society organisations that have shied away from mental health to come aboard. It provides service user groups the needed legal and moral backing to pursue their rights and ambitions within this Law and other relevant legal frameworks. Generally, quality of service and responsibility should be more pronounced.
BasicNeeds-Ghana stand ready and remains committed to the real work of effectively implementing the Law. We trust that from our partnership with the Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development the Law will be implemented to the letter. BasicNeeds will mobilise and work with its numerous NGOs/CBOs partners and the Alliance for Mental Health and Development, especially the Mental Health Society of Ghana to ensure civil society effectively contribute to realisation of the objectives of the Law and bring the needed relief to all people with psychosocial needs in Ghana.
It is our hope that the many Directors of health Services at the district and regional levels who have individually done so much for mental health care in their jurisdictions use this Law to do more for the sector. The mental health authority should be able to build on the modest achievements of BasicNeeds-Ghana and its allies, including the Mental Health Society of Ghana.
Once again, we congratulate every single organisation and individual. The struggle continues and so let us remain steadfast!
Yaro, Badimak Peter, Executive Director, BasicNeeds-Ghana; Monday, 05-03-2012