Kolkata: NGOs have been instructed not to provide hands on aid or engage in face to face contact with children with special needs and their families, according to Asish Ghosh, deputy director of the Institute of Cerebral Palsy (ICP).
“No guidelines have been issued even now about how to resume services for them during the pandemic and the CSR or CSO funding is also drying up. It is a hard time for all those who believe in the rights-based approach for the people with disabilities,” he told NewsClick.
“Both the central and state government are equally guilty in this regard as the children are developing behavioral problems sitting at home,” he alleged.
Chaitan Haloi, a differently abled person from Sukhchar of North 24 Parganas with a deaf and dumb daughter, who is solely dependent on institutes like Paschim Banga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammilani, said, “The way we, as citizens of the country, are being disowned by the governments, we may have to turn to begging on highways like older times. It looks like the Union government is not honouring the pledge taken at the international stage to honour the fight of the persons with disability,” he said as he teared up.
Disability Certificates for Spastic Children on Hold
Spastics Society of India, now renamed as the Institute of Cerebral Palsy (ICP), was inaugurated by the vetearl Left leader and late former CM Jyoti Basu in Taratala. It is also one of the nodal institutes for kids with cerebral palsy and has a network in most of the states of the country.
According to Ghosh, disability certificates for the children are not being issued by the state government and many parents of children with special needs have reported the same to ICP.
Kanti Ganguly, president of National Platform for Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), told NewsClick that in West Bengal state government hospitals, persons affected by only four to five disorders out of the assigned 21 categories are issued certificates, as they are lacking specialists. “Only the law is there; however, the aim to materialise the act is sparse,” he said.
State Govts Rub Experts the Wrong Way
According to an employee of the institute, Dr Arun Singh and other neonatal specialists, who have been mentoring ICP, are in the blacklist of the CM for their Left political inclination. And therefore, there’s repeated intervention by the state Health Department in the Spastics Society’s work, claimed the employee.
Interestingly, it was a team constituted by Dr Arun Singh, (who is now director of the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public health in Jodhpur), which had brought in a drastic change in the neonatal healthcare in the state and in the country as the Purulia model was a benchmark in drastically reducing the neonatal mortality rate. However, Dr Singh was reportedly humiliated and sent away for obscure work.
“This lack of government's empathy is hurting our kids and young adults with cerebral palsy, many of whom are from poor families,” said one of the senior officials from the organisation who wished not to be named.
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“Such an important institute’s functioning is dependent on NGOs and charity support from different organisations and the governments’ directive in the present situation is hurting the ICP as an independent body and the entire process,” said Ghosh.
Shortage of Blood for Thalassemia Patients
Speaking about the problems faced by Paschimbanga Pratibandhi Village, another famed rehabilitation and empowerment unit for the differently abled persons in the state, Ganguly told NewsClick that there is an acute blood shortage for the thalassemia patients throughout the state.
However, on December 3, on the occasion of World Day for Persons with Disabilities’ a blood camp will be organised where more than 600 disabled persons will donate blood for the benefit of thalassemia patients.
Ganguly, who is also the general secretary of Paschim Banga Pratibandhi Sammilani, highlighted that thalassemia has now been brought under the category of persons with disabilities, which can be checked for during the pre marital checkup. But the Central government's Health Ministry is dithering over the decision, he said.
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