Tamale, May 15, GNA - Stakeholders in the health sector have attended a day's forum to develop a roadmap to address challenges of mentally challenged persons.
This should include educating them in access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services.
This is to ensure a stronger and more inclusive Civil Society Organisations' movement leading to advocacy for mental health and reproductive rights in the country.
It follows concerns that mentally-challenged persons are one of the vulnerable groups with inadequate information and access to holistic SRH services in the country.
The event, held in Tamale, was organised by Norsaac with support from BasicNeeds-Ghana, both non-governmental organisations.
Participants included; representatives from the Tamale Metropolitan Health Directorate and the Tolon District Health Directorate.
Mr Mohammed Sumaila, a Project Manager at Norsaac, during the forum, said over the years, sexual and reproductive health rights of the mentally-challenged had not been prioritised, a situation which made it difficult for them to access proper reproductive health care at most health facilities.
He lamented that in most instances, mentally challenged persons were not consulted on major decisions of their cycles, especially child birth, adding "This act exposes them to unprepared parenting and untold hardships."
He, therefore, urged government and other stakeholders in the health sector to prioritise SRH of the mentally-challenged in the country.
Madam Lillian Kuutiero, Project Coordinator at BasicNeeds-Ghana emphasised the need for strong collaboration amongst all stakeholders to prioritise SRH for the mentally-challenged in the country.
She said "most families, communities and health facilities have wrong perceptions about mental health" hence the need for more awareness creation and sensitisation to reverse the situation.
Madam Joana Quarcoo, Tolon District Director of Health said people suffering from mental health were often abused when it came to accessing SRH and called on government to intensify public education to minimise the abuse.
She emphasised that "Government and other key stakeholders in the health sector need to prioritise mental health education by making it accessible and affordable."
Other participants suggested attitudinal change towards people with mental health, awareness creation, putting stop to discriminations in health delivery, and motivating health professionals as part of the roadmap to improve SRH for the mentally challenged in the country.