GHLI Assists with Mental Health Care Reform in Ghana

Last week, Vice President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama gave the assurance that mental health will be adequately cared for in government’s plans to upgrade all national, regional and district health facilities. Mahama met with a group of Ghanaians who attended the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI) conference in June, where they focused on ways to address the rising mental health problems in their country. In 2005, 32,875 people were hospitalized or given outpatient consultations in Ghana, representing a 98% treatment gap. Yet, only an estimated 3.6% of Ghana’s current health budget is allocated for mental health.

GHLI student fellow, Rebecca Distler, joined the Ghana delegation in their meeting with the Vice President, at which they updated Mahama on the post-Yale activities that the delegation had accomplished. The Vice President, who also made a visit to the GHLI conference, said that he is “happy that the delegation is actively living up to what was expected,” and spoke about launching a public awareness campaign for mental health to change the current thinking in Ghana of “mental health being an afterthought.”

Mahama has already begun to follow through on his words by charging the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to launch a national campaign to create awareness about mental health and reduce stigma against mental health patients in the country. During their meeting, the delegation presented the newly drafted post-Yale work plan, on which Rebecca was able to assist, along with a timeline for completion and a budget. They also requested that the mental health bill, which has entered into Parliament’s agenda for a second reading, be put under their consideration when they reconvene in October.

The GHLI annual conference convenes senior health practitioners from around the world to facilitate collaborative solutions in strengthening health systems. Delegations come to Yale from countries that have accomplished exceptional improvements in health despite limited resources to learn and apply tools of strategic problem solving to national health priorities. Each country delegation, comprised of senior leadership from Ministries of Health, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions, brings a health system challenge to address at the conference. With the support of Yale faculty and experts, past delegations have focused on a range of health system issues including: reducing maternal mortality, improving the performance of the health workers, increasing hospital management capacity and improving the quality of clinical outcomes.

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