In a groundbreaking initiative, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, today practically inaugurated 14 cross-disability early intervention centers in 7 National Institutes and 7 Composite Regional Centers as part of DEPwD in New Delhi. The centers will provide screening and identification, rehabilitation, counseling, therapeutic services, among others, for various disabilities under one roof and coherently.
The Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Krishna Pal Gurjar, Shri Ramdas Athawale and Shri Ratan Lal Kataria were also present. Secretary, Department for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ms. Anjali Bhawra; joint secretary, Mrs. Tarika Roy; DEPwD executives, directors of national institutes and heads of CRCs; Representatives of the state government and experts who attended the event.
In his address to the program, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot said that Divyangjan has always been and always will be one of the top priorities of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The central government implemented the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) of 2016 in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which provides for an inclusive society for people with disabilities.
Minister Gehlot said there was a need to identify children with disabilities or infants who are at risk of developing a disability and help them early to ensure optimal child development. Against this background, we decided in the first phase to set up 14 cross-disability centers (early intervention) in our facilities. We are also working on setting up such centers in all CRCs in 2022. As a result, the establishment of Cross Disability Early Intervention Centers will be available in approximately 25 states and Union territories, the minister said.
“Our National Institute and its subordinate CRCs provide rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. But the national institutions have only worked for certain disabilities. With this new initiative of ours, with the establishment of these interdisciplinary early intervention centers, identification of all types of disabilities as well as medical and rehabilitation services are offered under one roof in our facilities, ” he added.
Shri. Gehlot described that the ministry also produced the EIC’s manual, which gave detailed information on the structure and performance profile of these centers and intervention strategies. We hope that it will be helpful in setting up the Cross Disability Early Intervention Centers in other locations.
“We call on the state governments to raise awareness at state level so that the facilities in these centers can reach as many people as possible. We would also like to urge them to set up such centers at their level by following our 14 interdisciplinary early intervention centers as a model, ” said Minister.
On this occasion, the handbook for early intervention facilities for children with disabilities was published.
On that occasion, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar said that one of the key aspects of meaningful integration of people with disabilities is early detection and appropriate treatment. We consider the identification of high-risk cases, especially in rural areas, to be an important aspect and it is also important to provide parents with the necessary help and advice in a timely manner. To this end, we are building early intervention centers for people with disabilities, explained Shri Gurjar.
On this occasion, Sh. Ramdas Athawale said this was a historic moment when the early intervention centers first sprang up in the country. The aim of these centers is to make people with disabilities in India practically independent and to integrate them into society. He expressed his confidence that these cross-disability early intervention centers will be successful in reducing the disability of children aged 0-6 and hoped that the centers will set high standards in their services.
Shri Rattan Lal Kataria provided further details and said he was delighted to know that these interdisciplinary early intervention centers have been carefully designed with a child-friendly environment that makes these centers attractive and interesting for the children. This will help children receive therapeutic services in a calming environment. In addition, the accessibility will also allow disabled children and their parents easy access to the facilities of these centers.
In his opening remarks, Ms. Anjali Bhawra stated that disabilities in children are a matter of serious concern. According to the 2011 census, there are more than 20 lakh children with disabilities in the 0-6 age group belonging to the categories of the visually impaired, hearing impaired, mobility impairment etc this age group suffers from some form of disability. These are expected to increase when the law on the rights of persons with disabilities comes into force in 2016, as there are now 21 instead of 7 categories in the disability category. Research shows that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are critical to healthy development. It is therefore very important to identify the risk cases at an early stage so that the severity of the disability can be reduced through appropriate measures.
The joint secretary, Ms. Tarika Roy, gave a detailed presentation on the features and benefits of these centers.
These 14 early intervention centers were established in Dehradun, Delhi, Mumbai, Secunderabad, Kolkata, Cuttack, Chennai, Surendranagar, Lucknow, Bhopal, Rajnandgaon, Patna, Nellore and Kozhikode.
(With inputs from PIB)