Issue has become troublesome for different groups of differently abled people
Tamil Selvi of Dharmapuri has an obvious disability — she does not have one leg. Without an artificial leg, she can only crawl. And yet, she is yet to get a certificate mentioning her disability.
“I was told that my disability has to be certified only by an orthopaedician. So I went to a specialist at the Dharmapuri Government Medical College. He just referred me to a particular person who asked me to pay money. Why should I pay money for this?” asks Tamil Selvi. She refused, as a result of which she claims she is still waiting for a certificate. Others who interceded on her behalf were also abused, she says.
“This certificate is crucial to persons with disabilities who want to access welfare schemes. Right from getting concessions for rail and bus travel to applying for jobs, the certificate is very important,” explains S.Namburajan of Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers.
He goes on to add that this basic issue has become troublesome for different groups of differently abled people. “In fact, there is a government order which has specified that for persons with locomotor disability (amputation or complete/permanent paralysis of limbs) any medical practitioner working in hospitals or health centres run by government or local bodies can certify.” Only the degree of disability will have to be stated by the certifier.
The same GO indicates that only in the case of multiple disability, does one need to approach a Medical Board consisting of three members of whom one shall be a specialist dealing with the relevant disability.
The categories of disability that require a specialist to certify are also mentioned specifically. But this is being flagrantly violated in many instances, as in the case of Selvi, where applicants with obvious disabilities too are forced to go to an orthopaedician.
More recently, applicants with obvious disabilities who had gone to the Saidapet Government Hospital too faced problems.
“The chief medical officer refused to give us certificates, though we showed the government order authorising medical personnel to issue them,” one of them complained. Additionally, the doctor also refused to issue a certificate for one attendant authorised to travel at concessional rates in government buses, claiming ignorance of the clause.
“In fact, the order also calls for action against those doctors who refuse to do so,” Mr. Namburajan says. “Despite this, we face problems at most hospitals. Where the doctors do oblige, we find that some of the necessary particulars (round seal, doctor’s register number) are missing, and that invalidates the certificate for certain tasks, including getting rail concessions.”
TARATDAC has written to the State Health Secretary urging widespread implementation of the GO, and also to take action against erring medical practitioners.