Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority Dr. Akwasi Osei has told 3news.com that the Authority is going to engage all relevant stakeholders in the sector to get the Ministry of Finance to establish a Mental Health Levy.
“One of our biggest expectation for 2020 is to establish the Mental Health Levy that we’ve been clamouring for,” Dr Osei indicated.
“In the first quarter of this year, we are going to put in a lot of effort by engaging the finance and health ministries a lot to agree to establish the levy.”
He added: “We will bring all our advocates, partners, NGOs, development partners everybody to get the finance ministry and government to realise and agree that it is important to establish the Mental Health Levy.”
He further indicated that during the engagements, they would set modalities and when the Ministry agrees then it would go into their budget reading.
“Maybe, midyear budget reading then it would [be] mentioned that this year mental levy has been established.”
After that, he said, the next step would be “when we begin to see the money”.
Dr Osei hinted that the Mental Health Board is developing a policy of how to manage that fund when it is finally established.
“Already, there is a Mental Health Fund established by virtue of the law but what would feed the fund is largely the levy. But we are developing a levy to regulate the management of the fund so when the levy comes we already have the protocol and the policy to manage the levy. We are preparing the grounds.”
The Medical Director of Accra Psychiatric Hospital said finances of the Authority were not in good shape last year, indicating: “Our major development partner ended their support for the Authority in 2018 and was not renewed in 2019, so we had serious funding problems”.
Dr. Akwasi Osei said mental health has been malnourished, orphaned and deprived of resources for years.
“To bring parity and a level of equality with other health conditions, there is the need to give a lot of resources and that means more funding to mental health than exist.”
He expressed delight in the budgetary allocation for mental health for 2020.
“2020 the Ministry’s own finding for mental health is going to be drastically increased. That is certainly good news for us. Thanks to the government and the ministries of health and finance.”
But he added, however, that even with increased allocation, it is nowhere near what is adequate for use.
“We need extra funding.”
He also indicated plans by the Authority to get mentally challenged people off the streets and communities.