Institution Refuses to Take Back Mentally-Challenged Children
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05 May 2010
By Syed Rizwanullah
The children’s ward of the Jalna civil hospital has turned into a refuge for four mentally–challenged, hearing– and speech–impaired children, as the institution that takes care of them refuses to take them back.
Every communication and request made by the hospital authorities to the police, the district administration and the institution– the Shankarlal Mundada Matimand Mulanche Balgruha, Jalna– has fallen on deaf ears.
One–and–a–half years ago, the institution had admitted the children to the hospital to be treated for malnutrition. Today, hospital authorities say the children’s condition has improved and they are fit to go back.
However, Virendra Dhoka, secretary of the institution said, “We want the civil hospital authorities to issue a certificate stating that the children now have no signs of malnutrition. Unless the doctors declare them free of malnutrition, the institution has refused to take them in its charge.”
The Balgruha has the permitted capacity to house 25 speech– and hearing–impaired children. “However, we have 29 such children, including the four that are being treated at the civil hospital. The government pays us a meagre Rs 1,100 per child per month and that too for a strength of 25,” said Dhoka, who is also Jalna city unit president of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Five children of the Mundada institute were admitted to the civil hospital in October 2008 in a severe malnourished state and with symptoms including that of acute diarrhoea. “One of the children, identified as Kisan (5), had died at the hospital while four children were shifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Aurangabad. They are Shantanu (now 11), Kundlik (7), Vijay (11) and Vitthal (13),” said civil surgeon Bhanudas Survase.
“After the condition of the patients improved and they were dubbed fit for discharge in November 2008, we approached the institution to take charge of the children. Despite repeated requests, the institution refused to oblige. We have also approached several authorities including the Women and Child Welfare Department, following the advice of the Government Medical College and Hospital at Aurangabad, but to no avail,” Survase said.
Suvartik Dhilpe, a senior male nurse, who is one of the staff taking care of the children at the hospital, said, “The children’s health has improved a lot. Kundlik, who weighed 8 kg on October 31, 2008, weighed 12 kg on March 26, 2010. Similarly, Shanganu’s weight has improved from 12.5 kg to 13.5 kg, Vijay is 22 kg from his earlier 17 kg and Vitthal is 17 kg from 13 kg. And, these children are not suffering from diarrhoea or a severe grade of malnutrition.”
According to L S Deshmukh, the HoD of Paediatrics, at GMCH, “The Jalna civil hospital authorities had approached us a fortnight ago to examination the four children. Their weight has improved considerably, so have the signs of malnutrition. Their condition can be called ‘moderate’.
“They are completely dependent on others and need nursing more than treatment. They cannot move on their own and have no control over bodily functions,” said Deshmukh. “The institution should take charge of them and we have already given an advisory to the department concerned in this regard. A civil hospital cannot be a children’s home, when the arrangement is already there.”
Arun Ghode, relative of another patient who was admitted at the children’s ward of Jalna hospital said, “Despite being deeply sympathetic to these children, we still feel that the hospital cannot be their home. They are kept near the toilet, have no control over bodily functions and cause tremendous inconvenience to other children who are admitted to the civil hospital. One–and–ahalf years is a long period and it is not the hospital’s job. It’s high time that the institution realises its responsibility and takes charge of the children, the sooner the better.”