Human rights violations, quality of care and support for people with mental, psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, have in recent times been issues of major concern among stakeholders in health, including the World Health Organization (WHO). This has pecked-up nations around the world to inject some positive drive into dealing with the issues of human rights violations to improve service delivery.
In Ghana, the move to clamp down on human rights abuses and improve societal respect for human rights has been given impetus with the introduction of QualityRights in the healthcare system. QualityRights is a WHO’s global initiative to improve the quality of care provided by mental health services and promote the human rights of persons with mental health conditions and psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.
On the 20th of September 2018, a national stakeholders’ meeting was held at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra, to introduce the project and outline the model and approach it will take to be effectively executed in Ghana.
Stakeholders at this meeting included the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Christian Health Association of Ghana, Quasi-Health facilities, NGOs, the security services, development partners. The meeting was organized by the World Health Organization, Ghana, and the Mental Health Authority, after a two-day training had been organized for implementing partners at the same venue.
Opening the meeting, the Chief Executive of the MHA expressed appreciation to the WHO for picking Ghana as one of the countries they chose to pilot the QualityRights project. He bemoaned the human rights abuses and inhumane practices meted out to persons with mental health conditions and psychosocial and intellectual disabilities at both orthodox and unorthodox centres of mental health care. He was however hopeful of the attempts made by various stakeholders to curb these abuses and expressed the wish to see excellent service delivery in mental health care in Ghana.
In an address read by Dr. Jacob Abebrese on behalf of the Director General of Ghana Health Service who stood in for the Minister of Health, GHS being a major service provider, pledged to continue to providing the needed support to promote the QualityRights project. He acknowledged the efforts of NGOs in promoting mental health care and touched on the poor prison situation in Ghana, emphasizing that we need to improve the mental health of in-mates in our prisons.
Mr. Peter Yaro, the Executive Director of BasicNeeds – Ghana, speaking on behalf of all NGOs in Mental Health, was elated at the level of partnerships and harmonious working relationship among the NGOs in Mental Health. He mentioned the goodwill they have obtained from donor partners and governmental agencies they have partnered with. Concluding, he was hopeful that the QualityRights project will not only promote the rights of persons with mental health conditions and psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, but also enhance their quality of lives and services they enjoy. He assured the meeting that the NGOs will support the project to exceed the set targets, thanking the international partners for their support.
The Program Coordinator, Dr. Michelle Funk of WHO, in her address made mention of the long working relationship they have with Ghana and the support they offered Ghana to pass the Mental Health Act. She expressed the importance of collective efforts for this project. She went on to outline the objectives of the QualityRights project:
Build capacity to combat stigma and discrimination, and promote human rights and recovery.
Improve the quality of care and human rights conditions in mental health and related services.
Create community based and recovery oriented services that respect and promote human rights.
Develop a civil society movement to conduct advocacy and influence policy-making.
Reform national policies and legislation in line with the CRPD and other international human rights standards.
She called for the active involvement and engagement of all stakeholders concerned to bring meaningful and sustainable gains to the project.
The Director of Administration of the Ministry of Health, representing the Minister of Health, indicated that the program marked another milestone in mental health care. He stated that the QualityRights project being supported by WHO, is the first of its kind in Africa and hoped that it will improve mental health care in the country.
He expressed the concern with human rights abuses of persons with mental health conditions, psychosocial and intellectual disabilities and lauded the initiative of the MHA to ban inhumane practices in unorthodox centers. He acknowledged the efforts of the Regional Mental Health Coordinators for playing the lead role in this.
He assured the house that, they hope to pass the LI on mental health soon and stated that the ministry is working on a 10-year policy plan for mental health care. He concluded by assuring participants of government’s support and political will to launch and execute the project next year.