Hospital unable to take up case of hearing-impaired girl and provide cochlear implant under State scheme
If five-and-a-half-year-old orphaned Abinaya who suffers from inner ear deafness must lead a normal life then kind hearts and money are not enough, it would appear.
Abinaya has been awaiting a surgery for a cochlear implant under a State government scheme. But lack of the required certificates has held up the procedure for around a month now. The child will need to undergo surgery before she turns six to be counted as a beneficiary under the scheme.
Abinaya who was abandoned and found by the police in a hamlet near Madurai three years ago has been under the care of Bethany Children’s Home, Madurai, which is run by Joseph Benzigar.
“Three years ago I received a call from Karupaiyoorani police station, a suburb of Madurai, asking me if I would take charge of a child found abandoned there. The child was found at Pandi Koil, a pilgrimage centre. She was in the care of a tea shop owner for three days before he handed her over to the police,” Mr. Benzigar recalled.
Abinaya’s condition would have gone unattended but for a Delhi-based philanthropist who offered to pay for her surgery after learning Abinaya could recover her hearing if she was given a cochlear implant.
The Home approached KKR ENT Hospital in Chennai for surgery in August under a State government’s scheme which allows for cochlear implants surgery for hearing-impaired children below the age of six.
The hospital could not take up the case as beneficiaries under the scheme are required to provide a proof such as a ration card and birth certificate as well as the health card issued by the State for persons seeking assistance under the health insurance scheme. The Home was unable to provide these papers as Abinaya’s age was certified by a doctor after she was admitted there. She has an identity card issued to persons with disability by the State government.
T.D. Dhariyal, deputy chief commissioner for persons with disability, New Delhi, has written to V.K. Jeyakodi, commissioner for the disabled to set aside the norms for Abinaya. Mr. Dhariyal has also urged the hospital to conduct the procedure “if she is otherwise eligible for the benefit under the said scheme.”
S. Namburajan, State secretary of Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers, which has also taken up Abinaya’s case, has written to various officials in the health department, seeking relief for her.
“We need clear cut norms for such persons. The Home approached us for help while an activist has been supporting the cause in Delhi,” he said.
The association is awaiting a response from Mr. Jeyakodi, health secretary J. Radhakrishnan and project director of Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project P.K. Bansal.
“Abinaya is a brilliant child and has won several prizes. She is now in class I of the Deaf and Dumb School run by the YMCA. She is in a boarding school as the orphanage is far away,” Mr. Benzigar said.