Overlord of Dagbon Adds Voice to Calls to Respect Rights of People with Mental Illness and Epilepsy

The Regent of Dabgon, Kampakuya Naa Andani Yakubu Abdulai, has declared his special support for people with mental illness and epilepsy and called for improved efforts by all stakeholders to ensure that their rights are respected. He made these pronouncements at his Palace in Yendi when a team of mental health advocates led by BasicNeeds-Ghana visited him to pay courtesies and thank him for his patronage of a durbar organised by BasicNeeds-Ghana and funded by UK aid for the Chiefs and People of the Dagbon Traditional Area on September 12, 2017.

The Overlord of the Dagbon Traditional Area bemoaned the irregular supply of psychotropic and anti-epilepsy medicines in public hospitals as one of the most critical issues that needed urgent address. He said that this state of affairs  had contributed significantly to the increasing number of people with mental illness and epilepsy who had relapsed. He added that some people with mental illness and epilepsy had defaulted in treatment because they were required to buy their medicines every single time.

Earlier in the day, BasicNeeds-Ghana held a durbar of Chiefs and people of Dagbon at which the Overload was the Special Guest of Honour. In attendance at the durbar, which constitutes a BasicNeeds-Ghana project titled “Support Mental Health Services in Ghana” , were the Yendi Municipal Chief Executive, Chiefs from the Dagbon Traditional Area and the Chair of the Board of Directors of BasicNeeds-Ghana. Others were officials from Local Government, officials from the Yendi Municipal Health Directorate and the Ghana Prison Service as well as Self-help groups of people with mental illness and epilepsy and their carers.

Dr Edward Gyader, Chair of BasicNeeds-Ghana’s Board of Directors, in his welcome address to the gathering, thanked the Chiefs and people of Dagbon for turning out in their numbers to the durbar. He drew the attention of everyone present to some of the simple everyday occurrences that predisposed people to mental illness and epilepsy. Dr Gyader acknowledged that while much was being done by organisations such as BasicNeeds-Ghana and its partners to improve mental health care in Ghana, it was incumbent on the community to respect the rights of people with mental illness and epilepsy.

The Yendi MCE,  Hon. Alhaji Ahmed Abubakari Yussif, who read a speech on behalf of the Northern Regional Minister, said “It is clear that people suffering from mental illness are often denied their dignity and an opportunity to live quality lives as a right.” He acknowledged BasicNeeds-Ghana for the organisation’s efforts in improving the capacity of people with mental illness and epilepsy in the Region to seek treatment and access their rights. He said that “as a result of this, they have gained a better understanding of their conditions.” He assured the gathering of Government’s commitment to ensuring that District Assemblies included people with mental illness and epilepsy in Government’s social intervention schemes and the 2% District Assembly Common Fund allocated to persons with disability.

In a statement read on his behalf by the Kasuli Lana, Naa Bukari Yakubu, the Regent of Dagbon noted with concern some reported cases of abuse meted out to people with mental illness and epilepsy by a section of society. He said that it had come to his attention that some herbal treatment homes and prayer camps forced their mentally ill clients to fast against their will while others were chained or their legs encased in wooden pinions. He declared that such negative behaviour was unacceptable. He therefore stated his commitment to doing all within his power to work with relevant bodies to ensure that all such abuses were brought to an end in Dagbon.

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