AUTHORITIES at the three public psychiatric hospitals which were hit by an acute shortage of drugs have heaved a sigh of relief with the supply of drugs to last them for the next four months.
The quantity is said to be about a third of the required drugs needed by the hospitals, since they are usually given supplies to last for a year.
The supplies were made after officials of the hospitals in Accra, Ankaful and Pantang had complained about the shortage and how the situation affected healthcare delivery at those hospitals.
Reports indicate that during the period of the shortage, some of the patients who did not receive the required dose of prescribed drugs became aggressive and attacked other patients or health workers.
The situation, according to the reports, resulted in the killing of a patient each by other patients at the Accra and Pantang hospitals. At the same time, a nurse was almost strangled at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital but she was fortunately saved by one of the patients.
When contacted for comment, the Chief Psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Akwasi Osei, confirmed that drugs meant to last for four months had been supplied and pointed out that efforts were being made to get the remaining drugs to avoid a recurrence of the recent shortage.
He explained that the drugs in question were imported and had to be tested by the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) to ascertain their efficacy, a process which had caused the delay and the subsequent shortage.
Dr Osei said on a daily basis, the three hospitals received between 700 and 800 outpatients, stressing that the figure was in addition to about 2,000 patients on admission.
He said of the 2,000 inmates, the Accra Psychiatric Hospital had the highest number of about 1,200, followed by the Pantang Hospital with about 500, with the rest being at the Ankaful Hospital.
A Daily Graphic report on Friday, March 26 2010 had indicated that the three hospitals had been hit by an acute shortage of drugs for mental patients.
The report revealed that the hospitals had not been supplied with drugs for the past five months.
Health workers at the hospitals told the Daily Graphic that the situation had resulted in some patients on admission being given lower doses of prescribed drugs, while out-patients had to buy from outside the hospitals at exorbitant prices.
Under Ghana’s health sector policy, psychiatric drugs are provided free of charge by the Ministry of Health (MoH) for the treatment of patients who suffer from various types of mental illness. At worst, the drugs have to be subsidised for these patients who are considered vulnerable.