Human Rights Lawyer Prof. Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah has called on the family of Charlotte Nyarko, a patient of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital who was strangled by another patient, to sue the hospital for negligence.
Akua Pokua, who was admitted only about a week ago at the facility, allegedly strangled the victim with a piece of cloth.
Another inmate survived the attacked but sustained a severe head injury.
Authorities of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital attributed the death of the inmate as well as the injury of the other to the unavailability of drugs, insufficient personnel and congestion at the facility.
However, the Health Ministry has denied that the Hospital lacked the requisite drugs.
Prof. Ken Attafuah said on Joy FM and Multi TV’s, Top Story that people who are sent to the facility become the ultimate responsibility of the state and as such, the state must take charge of them.
He stated that, “this is an instance of negligence. Whichever way you cut it, if you blame it on society…society has erected structures through which it will act to meet the interest or the needs of society including those who are least fortunate and have mental disability."
"The Ministry of Health, the government of this republic takes upon itself to determine when persons should be confined that facility…when the state takes that responsibility, they come as charge of the state…and in this instance the state has on all fours failed to live-up to its responsibility…the state's failure results from the failure of those who must provide adequate funding…” he stated.
He said if the hospital is sued, it will force the state to come out its shells and put measures in place to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Describing the death as huge tragedy, the criminologist said Ghanaians have the tendency to shrug off issues affecting the mentally ill.
“It is a failure of the generality of the Ghanaian public; we as a community have persistently failed the weakest segment of our society, those with mental challenges, who we confine usually for our safety rather than for their well-being... It is a colossal shame, a crying shame on conscience of people in this country, that we do not care enough, we do not provide enough, and we do not at the end of the day, care deep enough.”