Getting themselves a ‘disability certificate’ is nothing short of an ordeal for the differently-abled in the district. Though the government has increased the number of centres where the certificates are issued, the main centres in the city, including Ernakulam General Hospital, continue to see about 100 candidates during the weekly sittings of the Medical Board.
“It becomes an extremely tedious process, especially for the persons with multiple disabilities. The differently-abled must get the certificates renewed every three years. During the issuance or their renewal, the applicants need to take up tests from the various departments to confirm the disabilities. Walking around from one department to the other is an ordeal since most of them have mobility problems. Since the board sittings happen during the out-patient timings, the queues for taking the tests are lengthy and time-consuming,” said Lathika Satish, mother of Anjan Satish who suffers from cerebral palsy.
In the case of vision and hearing impairment tests which make use of only simple equipment, the hospital can get new equipment sponsored for the disability sittings. The delays in the issuance of the certificates, absence of information on the procedures, travel expenses, the employment of additional accomplices for supporting the disabled are other issues.
“Often travel expenses are high for the disabled. Add to it, the food and other expenses for the accomplices. There are days when you have to come again for the certificates,” says Suchitra Narayanan, president of the Kochi branch of Indian Epilepsy Association
Another issue is many fail to utilise the monthly sittings at the taluk level hospital even if they are nearby. “Though the government has introduced the services to various parts, many are unaware of this. Some are driven by the feeling that good doctors would be available only at general hospitals,” said Nasir Manayil, of Kerala Vikalanga Samyukta Samithi.
DMO Junied Rehman said that maximum number of people were being issued the licences at the board sittings. “We take at least 100 persons during each sitting. In January we will have a camp. This will do away with all the backlogs. About 250 persons will be issued the certificates then,” he said.