From: The Record
Mentally ill patients suffer from severe abuse at psychiatric hospitals and so-called healing centres in Ghana, with many chained to trees and even denied water, a human rights group said Tuesday.
Some 1,000 residents live in squalid, overcrowded quarters in Ghana’s three psychiatric hospitals, according to Human Rights Watch. Patients face physical and verbal abuse, and some are given electroshock therapy without their consent, said the group’s report.
The abuse is even worse in healing centres known as “prayer camps,” which lack government oversight, it said.
Thousands of mentally disabled people in the West African nation are sent to the camps, usually by their family members to be “cured” by self-proclaimed prophets through miracles, prayer and fasting. In most prayer camps, residents are only allowed to leave when the prophet deems them healed.
At the Mount Horeb Prayer Camp earlier this year, about 120 of the 135 residents there were chained either to trees or to the walls inside cell-like rooms 24 hours a day, sometimes for months at a time, Human Rights Watch said. Most of the chains measured only two metres long.
“People had to bathe, defecate, urinate, change sanitary towels, eat, and sleep on the spot where they were chained,” the group reported.
Medi Ssengooba, Finberg fellow at Human Rights Watch and one of the report’s authors, urged Ghana’s government to end abuses against people with mental disabilities.