Jharna with her daughter Arpita in Andirpara. Picture by Mithun Roy
Their son died when he was 18. Now Ranjit Ghosh and his wife Jharna are spending sleepless nights afraid that they are going to lose their 11-year-old daughter Arpita soon.
Both children began to suffer from cerebral palsy from early childhood.
Ranjit, a resident of Andirpara, who sells sweets he makes to various shops, could not afford treatment.
Neither Balurghat, nor any other place in South Dinajpur, has any help to offer to those suffering from cerebral palsy. The patients need rehabilitation at specialised centres, absent in South Dinajpur.
The nearest facilities are in Siliguri.
“Arpita was normal for some time after birth. But eight months onwards we noticed that she was not developing like other kids. We met local child specialists, who said that she would be normal after some time. But the girl did not grow. Later, we came to know that it was cerebral palsy,” says Ranjit.
“My second son Ripan died from the same disease. He died two years ago. He was 18. We exhausted all our in his treatment. Now we don't have any money. I don't know what I can do for Arpita. She is going to die,” Ranjit said.
Their elder son is healthy.
Arpita was born on March 31, 2002, in Siliguri. She suffered from acute jaundice when she was just eight days old. At first she could speak. But that stopped too. She can only have milk and rice.
Cerebral palsy is brain paralysis caused by abnormal development or damage of brain.
“The symptoms generally appear in infancy and early childhood. They are usually seen before a child is two years old, and sometimes begin as early as three months. Parents may notice that their child is delayed in reaching developmental stages such as sitting, rolling, crawling or walking,” said Dhruvaranjan Sarkar, a doctor at a government hospital. “There is no cure for cerebral palsy. The goal of treatment is to help the person be as independent as possible,” added the doctor.
It is not known if it is genetic, doctors here said.
“There is no definite treatment of this disease and the affected need rehabilitation. But we don't have any such centre in this district. This is costly too,” said Kajal Kumar Mandal, chief medical officer of health in the district.
The chairperson of the Balurgahat municipality, Sucheta Biswas, said: “If the matter is brought to my attention steps will be taken from our end.”