Residents in the Sunyani Municipality have expressed concern about the increasing number of mentally challenged persons roaming the principal streets of the town in recent times.
One of them, a male, is seen in front of the Cocoa House building every morning singing and preaching while another one, a female, has adopted the roadside behind the Sunyani Senior High School wall as her home.
Walking through the Central Business District (CBD), one can count at least 10 mentally challenged persons loitering around, some naked.
The abandoned library at the Sunyani Children’s Park has become the home of some of these mentally challenged.
The situation, which was hitherto unknown in the town, has become a source of worry to residents who have expressed the fear that if no concrete measures are taken, these mentally challenged could pose a security threat, particularly to children.
At a recent meeting with journalists in Sunyani, a former Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Leonard Amengo, called on the authorities to find a solution to the problem.
Other residents who spoke to the Daily Graphic also shared similar sentiments.
Facilities and resources
Authorities at the Sunyani Municipal Hospital have attributed the situation to the lack of facilities and resources.
The Mental Health Unit Coordinator of the hospital, Mr Daniel Gemadzie, told the Daily Graphic that no subvention was given to the unit from the government and that made it difficult for personnel to cater for the mentally challenged.
According to him, the unit had been compelled to use a two-room office facility which had made it impossible to house such persons and provide them with the care they needed.
Mr Gemadzie added that drugs needed for the treatment of mentally challenged persons were exorbitantly priced beyond the capacity of some of the relatives of the patients.
He also explained that the Sunyani Municipal Assembly was currently working hard to complete a mental health unit facility which was started in 2017.
“When that is completed, the unit intends to collaborate with the Social Welfare Department to clear these mentally challenged persons from the street and provide them with care”, he stated.
Department of Social Welfare
For his part, the Sunyani Municipal Director of the Social Welfare Department, Mr Thomas Tornu, said it was unfortunate that relatives of mentally challenged persons neglected their responsibilities and allowed such persons to roam on the streets.
He said even though family members had the responsibility to cater for their mentally challenged relatives, they had let them loose and expected the government alone to shoulder the responsibility.
Mr Tornu said it had become very difficult to trace the relatives of those with severe mental challenges in their attempts to rehabilitate them, adding that most of them had migrated from other districts.
Mr Tornu said currently the department was rehabilitating six mentally challenged persons who had been discharged from the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.