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Drew N.,World Health Organization | Funk M.,World Health Organization | Kim C.,Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic | Lund C.,University of Cape Town | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Public Mental Health | Year: 2013

The purpose of this paper is to provide detailed assessments of the mental health laws of Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. The mental health laws of four countries were assessed both by country partners and staff of WHO, Geneva, using the World Health Organization (WHO) Checklist on Mental Health Legislation, which examines the level of coverage of key issues in mental health laws. The older laws of Ghana, Uganda and Zambia do not address fundamental human rights of people with mental health conditions. South Africa's more recent Mental Health Care Act (2002) incorporates critical human rights standards, though certain provisions fail to adequately safeguard against potential violations. For mental health legislation to maintain currency with human rights standards it must be regularly reviewed and updated. The findings highlight the urgent need to revise the mental health laws of Zambia, Uganda and Ghana, and to plan ways to address the gaps identified in the relatively new South African mental health law. The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008 signals a new era in how mental health legislation is to be drafted. The identification of gaps in national laws, as has been undertaken by the four countries, is an important first step towards putting in place legal frameworks to promote the rights of people with mental health conditions in line with current international human rights standards. © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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