NEET candidate with thalassemia made to run around for disability certificate amidst pandemic
Successful NEET candidates with disabilities are being put through needless harassment and risk amidst the Covid pandemic for repeat disability certification. Read this account of a candidate with thalassemia from Bengaluru who contacted Newz Hook to share her experience. We have kept her identity a secret in keeping with her wishes.
Rare blood disorders like thalassemia are yet to find a cure. Something CI* from Bengaluru wants to change by becoming a medical geneticist.
“As a person with thalassemia, I understand the challenges faced by people with rare disorders. Many of them have no cure and I would like to do research in that area”.
Most aspiring and successful NEET candidates with disabilities share a similar commitment and passion, often shaped by their own experiences coping with the challenges of their condition. This quality of empathy is precisely what most people look for in doctors. Yet it is not good enough for the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) which is putting successful NEET candidates with disabilities through needless harassment.
Only 12 designated centres across India
Take the case of CI*. Despite possessing a permanent disability certificate from Bangalore Medical College, she spent weeks running around for a new certificate.
Incidentally, only 12 hospitals across India have been designated for this.
“For admission through the All-India Quota, we had to choose one of the certifying hospitals allowed to issue certificates to qualified NEET students”, explains CI*. “For state quota, the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) needed the same certificate but from a different hospital as they do not recognise the certificate issued for the All-India Quota purpose”.
This involved traveling to Chennai amid the Covid pandemic to Madras Medical College. (MMC) This is the nearest designated centre for Karnataka students as no hospital in their state can issue certificates.
What was expected to be a day long visit ended up taking four days, says CI*.
On the first day, the haematologist was not available when the other doctors of the medical board finished registration. On day two, the haematologist gave us a list of blood tests, which included complete blood count, serum ferritin, and liver functioning tests. All of them had to be conducted in three different labs as there was no uniform collection centre. On the third day the reports were ready, and we got the certificate after a five-hour-long wait at Madras Medical College. – Qualified NEET candidate with disability
Because she wanted a college of her preference, CI* opted for KEA counselling. This meant another round of certification. “Although all disabled candidates were called to the KEA centre, only orthopaedic-ally handicapped or locomotor disability candidates were given certificates”, says CI*. “For others there were no qualified doctors to examine, so I was referred to Bangalore Medical College for certification as KEA does not recognise MMA cortication.”
Appeal to simplify process
Finally, after over 24 hours, CI* got the certificate after what she describes as an “unnecessary and exhausting process”.
“Only one certificate/proof is enough to prove disability and the permanent disability certificate can be used to ascertain whether or not a candidate is medically fit”, she says, questioning the need to repeat the process repeatedly.
The other major barrier is the limited number of designated hospitals for the All-India Quota. Many states including Karnataka, don’t even have hospitals. “How can a disabled person be expected to travel from one state to another, from hospitals to offices?”, she asks “This highlights the insensitivity of our government and the Medical Counselling Committee”.
Make the process simpler, is her appeal. “They should allow more hospitals, with at least one in each state to issue certificates and the same certificate should be used for AIQ and State Counselling. Also, the process of certifying should be made simpler to ease lives of those who already have issues in life”.
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