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General News of Thursday, 23 April 2020


Coronavirus: ‘Mentally-ill’ on our streets could be virus storehouse – MHA

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The Mental Health Authority (MHA) is in talks with the Gender Ministry to pull-out all mentally-ill on the streets, clean them up, and return them to their communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the MHA, there are an estimated 1,600 mentally-ill persons on the streets of Accra and Tema, and about 7,000 nationwide, from a 2005 assessment.

The authority projects that the number could be around 2,000 people in Accra and Tema and 10, 000 nationwide, presently.

The MHA says these persons could be a storehouse for the COVID-19 virus if pragmatic steps are not taken immediately.

Speaking to Starr News’ Elvis Adjetey, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei said the authority would need about GH5,000 to take care of each person.

He said “those who remain on the streets could be a storehouse for the virus and later they will come back and reinfect all of us. So it’s important that you give them attention.”

“What it means is that you and I, everybody, you are potentially harbouring the virus. We know that now it can be in the air for a little while, so everybody is a potential carrier for the virus.’

He went on “so if you and I protect ourselves with the masks, with all these measures, with our hand-washing, so we don’t get it, what about the other person on the street who is not wearing the mask, who is not protecting himself, who is not washing the hand.”

“So, he can be a potential carrier and when yours and mine, they are gone, and we are healthy, we can be reinfected by them,” he noted.

He explained that what his office was discussing with the Ministry of Gender was to take them from the streets in small numbers at a time, bring them for treatment, not just for custodial care and take them to their homes, not back to the street.

“We have estimated that for every one person on the street if you want to go and bring him to the hospital, to attend to him, to keep him there for about two months, a rough estimate before he is well, the money to buy his food to buy medicines for him, to buy disinfectants and eventually to take him back to his community, it will cost roughly about GHC5,000 per person,” he noted.

“So we should not ignore or neglect them, we should recognize that they are a very crucial constituency that needs attention, otherwise when everything is settled and done, they could be the source to it,” he ended.