Diasporian News of Thursday, 8 December 2011
Source: AGPI Secretariat
On Monday the 5th of December 2011, the Association of Ghanaian Professionals in Ireland (AGPI) in collaboration with the Chief Psychiatrists of the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Medical Association, the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Federation of Ghana Medical Students Association held the 2nd edition of the inter-medical school public speaking competition to promote psychiatry as a career option for Ghanaian medical students. The competition which was between representatives each from the four medical schools in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast and Tamale was held at the main auditorium of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeon in Accra. The topic for the competition was ‘A morden mental health law coupled with increased funding for mental health would lead to accelerated national development’.
The competition which was chaired by the President of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professor Dr Dr Sir G.W. Brobby was opened by the Deputy Minister of Education, Honourable Mahama Ayarega, on behalf of the Minister of Education, Madam Betty Mould-Iddrisu. It was also witnessed by the Deputy Minister of Environment Science and Technology, Dr Omane Boamah, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Honourable Muntaka Mubarak, the Director of Clinical Services and Communications Manager of St Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin, Mr Tom Maher and Ms Sarah Surgenor respectively, representatives of all the four medical schools, staff of mental health institutions in Accra, second cycle students, and representatives of print and electronic media as well as members of the general public. Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service welcomed contestants and guests to the event and explained the rational for the competition.
In an address, Professor Sir Brobby urged the government to urgently prioritise the provision of solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the mental health sector in the country, including the chronic human resource shortage, stressing that without a political will to reform the mental health sector, the problems bedevilling mental health service delivery in the country are unlikely to go away. He commended the AGPI for the initiative and advised that other Ghanaians must aspire to inspire before they expire. In a keynote address read on her behalf by her deputy, the Minister of Education, Madam Betty Mould-Iddrisu also commended the AGPI for the initiative which she described as very timely and relevant to current developments and efforts by the government and stake holders to revamp the mental health sector. She urged other Ghanaian associations based in diaspora to emulate the shining example from the Association of Ghanaian Professionals in Ireland and come up with initiatives and programmes that would impact on vulnerable societies across Ghana.
Mr Tom Maher, Director of Clinical Services in St Patrick’s University Hospital explained that his hospital decided to sponsor the initiative because it fell in line with the strategic vision of the hospital in Dublin to advocate for improvement in mental health service delivery in developing countries. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Honourable Muntaka Mubarak promised that the Mental Health Bill would be passed by the end of the first quarter of next year; stressing that members of his committee have vowed that no other health bill would be allowed to go through parliament until the Mental Health Bill is passed.
Dr Vincent Agyapong, Chairperson of AGPI used his address to thank all the members of the organising committee for the competition. He also appealed to the President of the Republic of Ghana to consider appointing a minister of state with responsibility for mental health and disability and to ensure that funding for these two services are ring-fenced. The competition itself was very exciting with excellent presentations from all eight contestants representing the four medical schools. In the end, the contest was won by the two students from the School of Medical Sciences at Cape Coast University who would undertake a sponsored elective placement in Psychiatry at St Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin next summer. The two students from the medical school in the University of Development Studies in Tamale place second and for their prize they would also undertake a four week sponsored placement in Psychiatry at St John of God Hospital in Dublin. The MC for the programme was Dr Rita Reindorf, a Specialist ENT surgeon at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.
For more information, please visit www.agpireland.org