Ghana seeks to address nationwide psychiatrist shortfall

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A woman is examined by an International Medical Corps psychiatrist in a mobile clinic located in PK3. Photo credit: © Patrick Meinhardt/International Medical Corps
A woman is examined by an International Medical Corps psychiatrist in a mobile clinic located in PK3,Central African Republic
Photo credit: © Patrick Meinhardt/International Medical Corps

Ghana has taken steps to make up the shortfall in psychiatrists in the country, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority Akwasi Osei has said.

In an interview with Xinhua, the chief psychiatrist said it was critical to bridge the gap, as the number of mental health patients has exceeded 20,000 across the country.

The authorities have been working to train more psychiatrists to ensure an equitable distribution of medical resources, but the shortfall still prevails.

“Ghana should have not less than 100 psychiatrists for a population of 30 million, but we have only 39,” Osei said.

To improve the situation, all graduates from medical schools are required to undertake a 6-month psychiatry duty, which the authorities think would generate more interest in this field.

Ghana has established a college of physicians and surgeons, where psychiatrists are being trained among other specialties.

The country passed the Mental Health Act in 2012 to create a new system of mental healthcare. Additionally, the mental health authority has also developed a 12-year strategic plan aimed at broadening the coverage of mental health care.

“Since the government alone cannot provide this financing, we are urging the finance ministry to draft a bill for the mental health levy to be passed, which will ensure a dedicated source of financing for mental health care,” he said.

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