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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

“We Have Failed” - Prof. Attafuah

Prof. Ken Agyeman Attafuah, a former Commissioner for Human Rights in the Province of British Columbia, Canada and the Chief Executive of the Justice and Human Rights Institute who spoke to The New Crusading Guide on the revelations from the Accra Psychiatric Hospital by our ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, has observed that “the revelations are an embarrassment to the nation but a contribution to Human Rights.

Adding that, ‘it also challenges the thoughts a PhD holder in Criminology, was of the view that, “The scale of Human Rights violations that the story exposes sounds a major clarion call to action”, adding that “we have an obligation to respect our Constitution and Article 15.1 of our Constitution provides that the dignity of Human Beings shall be upheld at all times”.

He asserted that considering the inhuman conditions at such facilities and for people who have limited control of their minds and their bodies and even their preferences, whose actions are significantly constraint by the social control apparatus of these institutions, the nation’s obligations to respect and control their well being, their human dignity, are even more pronounced.

Prof. Attafuah said, “We have a greater burden to those inside our wards who have limited control of their mental faculties than we do to those we have outside, and we as a society have failed in a colossal manner as evident by the disclosures”. He added, “We stand accused as individuals and as a nation because our obligations to provide for their well being have not been met. It is an indictment and a very sad significant indictment on the medical profession, particularly on nurses and other institutional staff talked about in the story”.

However, the onetime Director at the commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice commended the nurses who were going about their duties with diligence as projected in the story. He posited, “I think the activities of the nurses who faces were published in The New Crusading Guide must be celebrated. They were the few among many who had the courage to do the right thing”.

Dr. Lloyd Amoah, a lecturer at the Ashesi University and a Development Policy Analyst, told this paper in an interview yesterday that “For me, this condition symbolizes in very graphic terms the Ghanaian state in the throes of collapse and incapacity. The Ghanaian at the institutional level is proving totally disabled in meeting the pressing social needs of its citizens. These are deep and critical social challenges facing the Ghanaian today.

These concerns are compounded by economic stagnation and responding adequately to them is, in my view, the foremost challenge this and subsequent Ghanaian governments would need to tackle”. This paper further asked, “What can, and must be done at the policy level to help salvage this situation”?

Dr Amoah replied, “I think Ghanaian policy making in the last twenty five add years has focused too much on the economy. The New crusading Guide report highlights the need to bring the social space back into the policy arena. We need some serious and focused reconfiguration in our institutions especially in the public sector, and more so, with regard to those institutions that impact on the social well being of the Ghanaian, for instance, health, education and the like. It’s important that immediate steps are seen to be taken by the government on some of the issues raised in The New Crusading Guide story that would be a crucial inescapable first step.

Medium to long term plans must also be contemplated, like increasing the funding for psychiatric hospitals across the country and training or re-training of staff” he concluded”.

It would be recalled that yours truly, since last Monday, has been publishing an expose on the Accra Psychiatric Hospital at Asylum down. All manner of opinions have been expressed on the story since it hit the Newsstands, under the banner headline: “Undercover Inside Ghana’s Mad House.”
Source: The New Crusading Guide/Ghana

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