Volume 6 Issue 11 - November 15, 2009

Doctors ditch camp meant to disburse disability certificates

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: In a shocking incident of government apathy, around a hundred disabled children who travelled miles through a hilly terrain to attend a camp for disbursing disability certificates at Shillai, Himachal Pradesh were left in the lurch as the doctors who were supposed to attend the camp did not turn up.

The children - all in the age group of 5 to 10 years had come from villages under 30 Panchayats. A team of four doctors - an orthopaedician, an E.N.T. specialist, an eye specialist and a general physician were to ascertain their physical disability level and disburse certificates from 9 a.m. After waiting till 2.30 p.m., the disappointed and angry children and their guardians went back home.

When this incident was reported, the Chief Medical Officer of Nahan, M.K. Pathak promised departmental action against the doctors. He also promised to hold another camp. Only, the villagers dont seem too keen on it and want an examination at their doorstep.

India has around 70 million people with disabilities. But even after 62 years of independence, not even 10 percent of them have a disability certificate - a basic necessity for any disabled person to avail facilities and benefits meant for disabled people.

A disabled person has to run around some government or district hospital 3 to 5 times to meet a panel of doctors to get the certificate. And the waiting period is anywhere between 3 to 6 months, while something as important a document as a passport can be obtained in just 3 days!

What is even more surprising is that while this issue comes under the purview of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, a ping pong match seems to be going on between them and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (M.S.J.E.) over this.

Health Ministry officials in a meeting of N.C.P.E.D.P.s Core Group on Health in July said that they have revised the guidelines for issuing disability certificates to make the process simpler. But neither they nor M.S.J.E. are willing to make the guidelines public, for reasons best known to them.

N.C.P.E.D.P. has long been demanding that the onus of providing disability certificates in a timely and dignified manner should lie on the government in general and the Health Ministry in particular. A disabled person should be able to obtain a disability certificate at home after filling the required form. Incidents like this reaffirm this demand and highlight the struggle that is needed to avail a right as basic as this.

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