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Group seeks disability survey

Move would allow authorities to identify those who would need special care if infected by the coronavirus
In a letter to Firhad Hakim, the chairperson of the board of administrators of the CMC, Sruti Disability Rights Centre has suggested that the civic body include a column on people with disabilities in forms being used to collect information about comorbidities.

Subhajoy Roy   |   Calcutta   |   Published 12.10.20, 01:58 AM

A disability rights group has asked the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to create a database of people with disabilities so the authorities would know who would need special care if infected by the coronavirus.

The civic body has recently prepared a database of people with comorbidities in an attempt to further fine-tune the government’s Covid response. Covid patients with comorbidities — such as hypertension, diabetes and COPD — are more at risk of developing a critical form of the disease than others.

In a letter to Firhad Hakim, the chairperson of the board of administrators of the CMC, Sruti Disability Rights Centre has suggested that the civic body include a column on people with disabilities in forms being used to collect information about comorbidities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had said in a publication in March that “those with disability may be impacted more significantly by Covid-19”.

When contacted by Metro on Sunday, Hakim said the CMC would implement the proposal during the next phase of the survey. “I am not aware of the letter but this is a good proposal. I am going to adopt it,” he said.

Avijit Chowdhury, public health expert and mentor of Covid Care Network, which conducted the comorbidity survey along with the CMC, agreed that “there should be a column to identify people with disabilities in the next phase of the survey”.

The rights group said in its letter to Hakim that when people with disabilities were getting infected by the coronavirus, they needed facilities that were different from others. The hospitals were not equipped to deal with these people, they said.

Bahni Bhattacharya, a Dum Dum resident whose 24-year-old daughter suffers from autism, felt the lack of facilities for the disabled when she, her husband and her daughter tested positive for Covid-19 in September. After her husband and she were advised hospitalisation, she called the helpline of the state health department.

“I requested them to admit us in the same hospital because my daughter would not have been able to manage on her own. The people I spoke over the phone said they were not sure whether such an arrangement could be made in any government hospital. Nor could they tell me whether any hospital had staff trained to deal with people with disabilities,” Bhattacharya said.

The family finally got themselves admitted in a private hospital, where they were given beds in the same ward. “The treatment was expensive but I could not have left my daughter in untrained hands,” she said.

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