Telangana High Court directs state to make Covid hospitals & centres disabled-friendly
Earlier this month, the Telangana High Court passed an order asking the state government to make all Covid centers and hospitals disabled friendly. This is indeed a welcome move. But state officials need to look into a larger picture, points out disability rights activists.
People with disabilities from across India have been highly vulnerable during Covid times and lockdown. The lack of accessible and disabled friendly hospitals, if any are tested Covid positive, adds to the woes of India’s disabled community. In a welcome move, the Telangana High Court directed the state government to install disabled friendly facilities at all Covid-designated hospitals, isolation wards and testing centers across the state.
A welcome move
Advocate Shiva Ganesh had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) requesting the court to sensitize concerned officials including police force about needs of disabled people during the Covid pandemic. The court did not delay the hearing and also ordered for immediate action to be taken in favor of the disabled community.
The division bench directed Telangana state to provide monetary allowances and other benefits to caregivers as part of the RPWD act, 2016.
The Women and Child Welfare Department was instructed to take assistance from District Welfare Officers to collect data with regard to the number of people with disabilities being treated or suffering from the deadly Covid virus. This data is important to analyze the situation of the state’s disabled community.
Where the real struggle lies
In July, the court had instructed the state to look into funds and helpline numbers that needs to reach out to the state’s disabled community. Reportedly, that has not been rightly implemented yet.
Vasundhara Koppula, a wheelchair user from Telangana, is a disability rights advocate. Koppula points out the real struggles of people with disabilities in the state.
“It is indeed a nice initiative and must be implemented well. But people with certain disabilities need assistance during these times. So it is better to provide home isolation to disabled people because Covid is not a regular disease wherein people can help each other. What we need now are not disabled friendly hospitals, but a disabled friendly hospitality and attitude from concerned officials”, she says.
Vasundhara further adds, “People with disabilities have faced financial crunches even before the pandemic. We need free ration, nutrient-rich foods and medicine kits. The government must be focusing on all these rather than just having disabled friendly hospitals. The government does useless works now and ignores the real cause. We are in hunger, depression and on top of it, suffering from diseases. But who cares?”.
The state’s disabled community hopes that their voices will be heard so that officials will step in and do their bit.
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