GHS Director Laments Tramadol Abuse

Participants in a group photo


The Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Abdulai Abukari, has expressed worry about the rate of tramadol abuse among the youth and health workers in the region.

According to him, statistics has shown that the prevalence of tramadol use among Ghanaian youth was between 24.9% and 77.6% (Danso & Anto, 2021) adding that recent studies in Northern Ghana revealed high usage of tramadol by men (90.7%) compared to females (9.3%) and among those in the informal sector jobs (Alhassan,2022).

“These addictions not only harm the individuals involved but also have far-reaching consequences for their families and our society,’ he added.

Dr. Abukari further stressed that stress  mismanagement has emerged as a significant challenge, with adverse effects on the well-being of workers and community members.

He noted that research indicates that one in four people will experience mental illness in their lifetime, highlighting the urgent need for accessible and effective mental health services.

“In the Northern Region, our dedicated mental health professionals have been working tirelessly to address these challenges. From reviewing routine OPD consultations and conducting home visits to providing outreach services and delivering mental health education in schools, their efforts have been commendable,” he stated.

Dr. Abukari further noted that over the past three years, there has been a concerning trend in cases of epilepsy, depression, psychoactive substance use, mental disorders due to alcohol use, and schizophrenia, schizotypal, and delusional disorders.

“These statistics underscore the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to mental health care in our region,” he added.

He made this known during the Agenda for Inception Meeting for the GHS Director General’s Special Initiative for Mental Health supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), held in Tamale.

The Northern Regional GHS Director said the initiative presents a unique opportunity for them to strengthen their mental health services, build capacity, and develop innovative solutions tailored to their local context.

“This inception meeting, we aim to increase awareness, provide orientation for key stakeholders, and develop a comprehensive work plan that will guide our efforts in the coming years”.

The Principal Nursing Officer (Mental Health), GHS, Emmanuel Fokuo, who read a speech on behalf of Dr. Amma Boadu, Deputy Director for Mental Health GHS, said statistics show that approximately 1 out of every 10 Ghanaian grapple with common mental health conditions, while 1% to 3% are living with severe mental illnesses and that only 5% of these individuals receive adequate treatment; a disparity exacerbated in regions with limited resources.

“The pervasive lack of awareness and understanding surrounding mental health perpetuates this treatment gap, affecting individuals across all demographics by the age of 75, 1 in 2 which translates to half of the population will have encountered some form of mental health challenge,” he said.

He urged the public to desist from stigmatizing and discriminating against persons with mental illness.

“Our profound concern are the misconceptions, stigma, and discrimination associated with mental illness, which unfortunately permeate our health systems. These barriers hinder individuals from seeking help and impede their path to recovery. It is imperative that we collectively prioritize mental health care, combat stigma, and ensure accessibility for all in need”.



BY Eric Kombat, Tamale