With over 95 per cent of persons with disability in the country having no access to rehabilitation services of any kind, the government has chalked out a long overdue scheme to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services in over a hundred districts in the country.
For the nearly 50 million persons with disabilities, rehabilitation services are out of reach. It is only a tiny fraction of physically persons with disability living in the urban metropolises who have access to any kind of therapy or rehabilitation facilities.
Though the enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, made the government responsible for providing comprehensive rehabilitation services to persons with disability, the record of coverage has been pathetic with only about 5 per cent of these persons having access to any kind of help.
For persons with disabilities living in the rural areas, any kind of physical handicap is seen as a curse, an affliction to be borne with not even elementary services to improve their quality of life.
In a bid to reach out to the disabled in the small towns and villages, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has identified 112 districts where comprehensive rehabilitation services will be made available.
So far the Ministry’s strategy was no hold ‘Health camps’ in rural areas for those with disabilities. The INR 20 odd lakhs that were spent on each of these camps would result in the distribution of calipers or crutches, or glasses, but it was a one–time affair. There was no follow up and the result was disabled children continued to use the same calipers, even when they had outgrowth them.
The new plan would be to locate the centers for rehabilitation services in existing structures, like a school, or a college or a guest house, and to involve all the trained manpower available in the district. “Funding for the Ministry’s existing budget, so I am not going to be spending money on putting up buildings, The scheme will utilize the existing infrastructure”, said Minister for Social justice and Empowerment, Maneka Gandhi.