Mumbai

Occupational therapists call for Central regulatory body

Hoping for change: Occupational therapists participate in an awareness campaign on Saturday.

Hoping for change: Occupational therapists participate in an awareness campaign on Saturday.  

‘Govt. has been ignoring our demands for past 10 years’

Members of the All India Occupational Therapists’ Association (AIOTA) on Saturday reiterated their 10-year-old demand for a Central regulatory body for occupational therapists in India.

The members voiced their grievances at a press conference at Mumbai Press Club. They said with the government paying no heed to their grievances and the AIOTA unwilling to resort to protests, creating awareness of the demands of their profession is the only option left with them.

Dr. Anil K. Srivastava, AIOTA president, said, “There is not enough awareness of occupational therapy in the country, which restricts the consumers of this service. There is a dire need for a Central council for standardisation of practice parameters, education policies and to prevent fraudulent activities.”

Dr. Srivastava said the lack of government colleges for occupational therapy, exorbitant fees in private colleges, inconsistent educational standards in the field and negligible presence of occupational therapy departments in hospitals added to their woes.

Dr. R.K. Sharma, former AIOTA president, said, “The government should look at the sheer percentage of people in the country who have become permanently handicapped because of the lack of services, which is a constitutional right for better quality of life.”

The members also highlighted the migration of professionals. They said over 25% to 30% of occupational therapists having migrated owing to inadequate opportunities in both the government and private sector.

Punita V. Solanki, an occupational therapist, said, “In private hospitals, revenue generation is the primary concern and since occupational therapy cannot provide a high remuneration, private colleges or hospitals do not have these departments or courses.”

The members said the main reason why the profession has been sidelined and clubbed as an allied health profession was because of lack of social and economic awareness among people.

According to the members, the amended rights of persons with disability reiterates the importance of early intervention in identifying disabilities, but most States are unable to provide help owing to the absence of a Central regulatory council.

Dr. Sharma said, “You don’t see us protesting on the streets as we are not a destructive organisation. But this is also why it is easy for the government to ignore us. The incomplete medical advice as well as social stigma attached to seeking help for disabilities has led to so many people settling for a lower quality of life despite options being available.”

On Saturday, as part of ‘Occupational Therapists India Month, AIOTA organised campaigns across the country, which included walkathons, street plays, seminars, panel discussions, poster presentations, awareness rallies, and camps on the premises of medical colleges and hospitals.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 6:36:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/occupational-therapists-call-for-central-regulatory-body/article29934145.ece

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