University of Ghana (UG),Legon , has emerged champions of the seventh inter-medical school debate, scoring 86 points to overcome the fierce challenge by three other public universities. For their prize, they received a trophy, certificates and a travelling package to Dublin, Ireland, for a four-week attachment programme.
The defending champions, University of Cape Coast (UCC), bagged 84 points to place second, while the host, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and University for Development Studies (UDS), took the third and fourth positions with 81 points and 78 points, respectively. “Suicidality risk and criminalization of attempted survivors in Ghana”, was the topic for the debate, organized jointly by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Mental Health Authority, in Kumasi.
The competition was initiated seven years ago by Professor Vincent Agyapong, a medical scientist of the University of Alberta, Canada, to give opportunity to medical students to brainstorm on issues relating to the medical field. This is to stimulate their interest in the search for practicable solutions to emerging challenges relating to medical education, practice and healthcare.
Dr. Akwasi Osei, the Chief Psychiatrist, advocated a national suicide prevention policy, saying, this was necessary to aid the Authority in its work to roll back the growing suicide attempts. He announced that since last year, it had recorded more than 1,000 failed suicide attempts and described the trend as deeply troubling.
The Authority, he said, had teamed up with the media to increase public education and prevention. Dr. Osei identified the inability to deal with stress and frustration resulting from economic hardships, marriage breakdown, poverty, disappointments and death of loved ones as well as the lack of counselling as some of the factors fueling suicide in the country.
He complained about the inadequate number of certified practicing psychiatrists and said it was time the MoH worked together with the medical schools to train more mental health professionals. He added that getting more professionals to handle mental-related issues was in the best interest of the nation.