Indian-American launches drive for healthcare access to individuals with intellectual disabilities

VOSAP is a leading disability sector NGO, having enabled more than 25,000 persons with disabilities since 2017 by providing assistive devices, surgical interventions and scholarships.
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

WASHINGTON: A US-based non-profit on Saturday announced an initiative to enhance healthcare access for individuals with intellectual disabilities, with an aim to benefit 10,000 people in India in the first year.

Under Project Hitarth, US-based Voice of Specially Abled People (VOSAP) has entered into a collaboration with Parivaar NCPO (National Confederation of Parents Organizations) to provide financial support to social workers to assist individuals with intellectual disabilities in accessing much-needed therapies, dental work, outpatient department services and get reimbursement up to Rs 1 lakh per year from the government of India's Niramaya scheme, a press statement said.

"We are very excited for the opportunities with this new model to expand VOSAP impact that leverages the government of India's existing programmes and strengths of our trusted, reputed partners like Parivaar," said VOSAP's California-based founder Pranav Desai.

VOSAP is a leading disability sector NGO, having enabled more than 25,000 persons with disabilities since 2017 by providing assistive devices, surgical interventions and scholarships.

The Niramaya scheme offers up to Rs 1 lakh insurance reimbursement for covered medical expenses for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

A joint research conducted by VOSAP and Parivaar NCPO revealed significant underutilisation of the scheme due to challenges in online enrollment, understanding benefits and navigating the complicated claim process, the statement said.

In 2022-23, according to a government of India report, only 28,323 claims -- out of 1,87,290 (1.87 lakh) enrolled beneficiaries -- with an average of Rs 6,405 per claim were settled.

This indicates a very poor enrollment as the number of individuals with intellectual disabilities in India are more than one crore and significantly low reimbursements amounts ie very little impact of the Niramaya programme, the statement said.

"The pilot programme aims to benefit 10,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities within its first year, with the goal of scaling to 1,00,000 beneficiaries.

By improving access to health care and reducing the financial burden of medical expenses, (Project) Hitarth strives to enhance the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities through essential therapies such as physiotherapy and speech therapy, etc," it said.

Parivaar NCPO's Pankaj Maru said, "Parivaar is happy to collaborate with Voice of SAP to make the Niramaya health insurance (schemeI more accessible for millions of PwIDDs through our more than 300 parents and voluntarily member organisations having presence in 31 states."

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