Epilepsy cases soar in Nkoranza North District – Mental Health Coordinator

Cases of epilepsy are getting out of control in the Nkoranza North District of the Bono East Region, Mr Stephen Awiti, the District Coordinator of Mental Health has stated. He said about 40 per cent of the more than 900 recorded mental health cases in the district were epilepsy with most of the patients from 15 to 35 years. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Busunya, the District capital, Mr Awiti said epilepsy and other mental health cases were common at Dromankese, Busunya, Kranka, Yefri and Bono-Manso, farming communities in the district. Mr Awiti expressed worry about what he described as the high stigmatisation and discrimination of people with mental health conditions in the area, saying the stigma was pushing some parents to hide their children with mental disorders, instead of taking them to health facilities. Another key challenge confronting people with mental health conditions such as bipolar, depression, suicide tendencies and related cases, he mentioned was intermittent shortages
of mental health drugs, a situation which was worsening the conditions of some of the patients. Mr Awiti said the district had recorded 20 new cases of mental illness, and attributed some of the cases to substance abuse, marital problems and divorce. He said it was untrue that mental health cases were linked to witchcraft and wizardry because patients who strictly adhered to taking their drugs could possibly be cured. In another interview, Mr Thomas Tongzagli, the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Coordinator of the Alliance for Mental Health, appealed to the government to do more to tackle the shortage of mental health drugs. The alliance is an umbrella organisation for people living with mental health conditions in the country. Mr Tonglazi, a farmer expressed worry that many of the mental health patients could not afford to buy drugs because they were unemployed and appealed to government to support them to engage in economic livelihood programmes to make money. He expressed appreciation to MIHOSO Internat
ional Foundation, a health centred and development non-governmental organisation (NGO) and BasicNeed Ghana, another NGO for their support in helping the patients to access medication. Mr Tonglazi also bemoaned the societal discrimination of mental health patients and called for intensified public education to help bring the situation under control.

Source: Ghana News Agency