1.5 million (15 lakh) children are born with birth defects in India every year
2.5 million (25 lakh) children are affected with development delays in India every year
Children in India is committed to transform lives of these children by ensuring Healthcare and Education
Children and CURE India have a shared partnership approach, where government systems are the basis of all aspect of the initiative. Government of India through its National Health Mission, from 2013 has introduced a very comprehensive three tier screening system for birth defects, development delays, diseases and deficiency among children. CURE India receives the list of children identified for clubfoot treatment from NHM representatives at the state and district level. Similarly Children in partnership with the government will receive information on the children with birth defects and children affected with development delays that lead to disability. Children commits to make sure that these children who are identified will be provided timely healthcare, community based rehabilitation and compulsory education opportunity.
Children with birth defects or children who are affected with development delays are traditionally referred to government medical colleges and district level hospitals for medical care. As part of the National Health Mission,
District Early Intervention Centres are also established where children screened are referred for comprehensive and complete treatment. Counsellors appointed by Children will work with these parents to make sure that their children get the right treatment and required assistive devises so that each one of them complete hospital based healthcare. Periodic and regular medical care will be facilitated if required.
Hospital based care
Community based rehabilitation
It is vital that children with birth defects and children affected with development delays continue the required rehabilitation at home and in their community. For example for a child with cerebral palsy, the economically deprived families it may not be possible for them to get their child for physiotherapy to the hospital/DEIC every day. It may not be economically feasible for them to seek a private care from a professional physiotherapist at home. However it is important that the child require daily physiotherapy to make sure that the child has enhanced mobility and communication skills and Children’s model is where parents are taught the basics of physiotherapy so that the child is not deprived of the extended daily care. With the active participation of the community health volunteers (Accredited social health activists/ ASHAs) these children are also provided opportunity to get integrated to the community activities and life.
17 million people worldwide have Cerebral Palsy
3.3 children per 1,000 births have Cerebral Palsy
In India every year over 100,000 children are added to the millions of children already living with Cerebral Palsy
Inclusive Anganwadis in India
Education for all
Children with birth defects and children affected with development delays are often admitted in ‘special schools’. This practice of special school system is excluding majority of children with disabilities from the higher education opportunity. For example, when around 200,000 children suffer visual impairment every year in India, only 15,000
children have opportunity to join ‘special’ school for the visually challenged. However it is important and essential that every child irrespective of the birth defects or development delays gets equal opportunity to acquire not only primary education but also higher education and advanced skills. Children will make sure that these children receive education from the nearest Anganwadi/ play school.
Peer pressure and network of Friends
It is important for every child irrespective of their physical and health condition that they have friends from the neighbourhood/village in which they live and grow. One or few friends give any child an opportunity to communicate, learn and share their emotions and challenges. It is very important to note that when these children attend schooling every day it’s not only they have education in classes but receive peer pressure and build a network of friends that is very essential for any child to grow and attain the full potential.
It is proven that children with disability perform much better when they grow up in the same environment as their peer compared to being alone at home or growing up in a special school. The other advantage which is equally beneficial is that in this process of ‘growing and learning together’, the so called ‘normal children’ learn how to live and grow with children with disabilities even when they are children and this will help them create an inclusive society and a nation as they grow.
For example, unlike the ‘normal’ children, those children with cerebral palsy miss their developmental milestones. At 3-4 months their neck may not get firm, at 10-12 months they may not walk and even at 2 years these children may not start talking. The damage to their brain because of lack of oxygen supply often results in damage of locomotor skills and often affects their ability to communicate. These children end up untreated and often unattended even by parents because of ignorance. These children require a normal environment like any other children to grow. When they are allowed to grow in normal atmosphere, these children also imitate other children and develop their skills to communicate and learn to improve their mobility. Children with visual challenge and hearing impaired will also have the same mutual benefit. This inclusive environment allows all children to be compassionate with each other and create a culture of care and support from a younger age.
Equal Opportunity for all children
Like any other children, children with birth defects and development delays also should be given opportunity in life from an early stage. Just because there is delay in mobility or communication, these children should not be kept home away from pre-school and primary school. When these children are kept away from their peer, they ultimately further miss the opportunity to improve their basic communication. It’s only when children grow together, they understand and learn social behaviour and this growing together of children with disability and other majority children will enhance integration.
Monitoring and Documentation
This program gives an unique opportunity to study, document and record the new opportunity thousands of these children will be receiving through the initiative of Children. It is expected that when these children spend time with their peers in schools and anganwadis, children with CP and other development delays or birth deformities will learn to speak faster and learn to communicate better. This living and studying together help all other children in Anganwadi centres to be aware of many such children living with hearing impaired, vision impaired, physical disability and development delays.
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