The heart touching story of a mentally impaired nursing mother has received public attention, thereby
spreading like a wildfire, as Ghana joins the rest of the world to mark the Mental Health Day (MHD) celebration.
Akosua Tuah, the 31-year-old patient, and a single mother of two, successfully delivered her third baby on eve of the MHD celebration on the street of Sampa, a Ghana-Ivory Coast border town in the Jaman
North District of the Bono Region by herself.
October 10 is the MHD, set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and celebrated annually to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
The day also provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
According to health officials, Tuah is suffering from schizophrenia, a mental health condition, where patients “loose contact to reality” and she and her bouncing baby girl were in healthy condition.
However, the officials at the Sampa Fountain Care Hospital, a private health facility where Tuah is currently on admission, told the media during a visit the baby had since been placed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“The baby is healthy, she, however looks dirty, when Tuah was brought to the facility around 0700 hours”, Philomena Asima, a midwife on duty at the health facility, stated, and added due to her current condition, it was not advisable to allow her to breastfeed the baby.
According to Mr Paul Atta Poku, the Registered Nurse Mental Health Officer at the Fountain Care Hospital, Tuah has been stable since she was brought to the facility and provided with medication, saying
schizophrenics could be treated only if patients strictly adhere to their drugs.
Generally, he expressed concern that cases of mental health were very high in the Jaman North District, with epilepsy and schizophrenia being the common ones.
This is because both cases are hereditary, and called on parents and families whose children suffered from various mental health conditions not to hide them, instead supporting them to access medication to aid
their treatment process.
Mr Opoko said the facility had enough mental health drugs for patients, however due to the costly nature, many patients could not afford to buy them.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to facilitate and ensure the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) covered the drugs for the patients to access medical care.
Tuah and her baby’s story remained a topical issue in the Sampa Township, as residents wondered who was exactly behind the father of her children.
Describing her as a popular lunatic, always sighted roaming on the streets of the town, some residents and commercial drivers said Tuah could not be predicted as she looked aggressive and normal ometimes.
Touched by her story, MIHOSO International Foundation, a Sunyani-based health centered advocacy and social development NGO, has opted to cater for the feeding fee of the baby girl.
The NGO which also implements a mental health project aimed at helping to alleviate the plight of persons with mental illness, had since presented GHC1,000 for the upkeep of Tuah and her baby.
In an interview with media, Mr Thomas Benarkuu, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, MIHOSO, underlined the need for the government to tackle what he described as the intermittent shortages of mental
health drugs in the country.
He also added his voice on the need for the NHIS to capture mental health drugs, saying the condition of patients relapse when they stopped taking drugs.
Mr Benarkuu called on the various Municipal and District Assemblies to also include persons with mental conditions on the disbursement of the Disability Fund so that patients could also engage in petty trading
and artisanal work to enhance their socio-economic livelihoods.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer appealed to parents and caregivers not to neglect patients, instead draw closer, tolerate, be patient and listen to them saying giving patients the required attention in one
way or the other aided their recovery and healing processes.