President opens new mental health complex @ Korle-Bu

President Naana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday commissioned a new office complex at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Ghana Medical School in Korle-Bu.

The building is named “The Melody” in honour of the late Melody Millicent Danquah, the first female pilot in Ghana, as well as in the South of the Saharan African, who lived with a mental health issue after falling into a deep clinical depression that made her barely able to function.

A front view of the new office complex of the Department of Psychiatry

Speaking during the commissioning, the President assured stakeholders in the provision of mental health care in the country that his administration is committed to making that aspect of health service a priority.

“Our journey to provide comprehensive and accessible health care for all is ongoing. Together, we can build a nation where mental health care is a priority and every Ghanaian receive the care and support, they deserve,” the President noted.

Touting his leadership achievement, he said the NPP government had added some two psychiatric hospitals to the Agenda 111 hospital projects. These two, he indicated, are to be built in the Ashanti and Northern regions.

Mental health

The President observed that “in 2019, government launched the legislative instrument (LI) for Mental Health Authority, which establishes the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders including the government, private sector and civil society”.

He explained that the Mental Health Authority is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the LI in order to ensure its effectiveness.

All these steps, the President noted, are part of efforts aimed at improving mental health care delivery in the country. He added that the recent decision to decriminalize suicide in the country will also go a long way to help in the process of mental help delivery.

“I am delighted to announce that on March 31, 2023, we took a significant step forward for mental health service delivery by decriminalizing suicide in Ghana. This progressive move will help remove stigma, improve access to care and improve outcomes for individual struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviours in the country,” the President stated.

State-of-the-art facility

Touching on the facility, the President noted that the “state-of-art facility” will not only serve the University of Ghana Medical School but also serves the larger Korle-Bu hospital community.

“It houses a conference room, student lecturer hall, faculty research offices, a serene waiting area conducive to teaching and learning, trendy consulting rooms, therapy rooms, a treatment room, a pharmacy and an observation room.

“This building symbolises a beautiful partnership between public institutions and the private sector. It shows what can be achieved when the experts sit with the private sector and the private sector become aligned to its responsibilities. This partnership, deepens government’s commitment to advancing mental health care in Ghana,” he said.

“The Melody, as this building is to be called, just by the way it looks, ad by virtual of where it is situated, will decrease stigma towards patients and professionals who practice. It represents a beacon of hope, a sanctuary where individuals can seek help without fear of judgement, discrimination or social isolation” the President noted.

Motivation to build

Outgoing head of the Psychiatry department of the University of Ghana, Professor Angela Ofori-Atta, expressed delight to witness the completion of the building project, which was conceived some 20 years ago.

Prof. Ofori-Atta gave credit to all who helped to mobilize funds for the construction of the ultramodern office complex for the department of psychiatry.

“For this building we raised funding from friends and family. From the Ken and Angie Ofori-Atta Foundation, from Kwesi Atuah of Life Forms Limited, from the Osei-Bonsu family, and from Keli Gadzekpo and family ventures,” she indicated.

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