Asha Kiran inmates wait in vain for new home

No alternative arrangement two months after the shocking 12-deaths-in-a month negligence at the home for mentally challenged


Sonal Matharu | March 5, 2010

Snuggled on a corner bed in a hospital ward, 12-year-old Munna is fast asleep. After spending a week in the hospital, he can now walk and move his hands easily. His helper from Asha Kiran, the home for mentally challenged where Munna lives, says she is more than happy with the treatment given to him by the doctors.

On one of the beds on the other side of the room sleeps Ujwal, 12. She was admitted Friday morning when her fever, continuing for eight days, did not cure.

Children from Asha Kiran, a non-governmental organisation for the mentally challenged, though admitted in the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital for routine treatment, may have to continue living in overcrowded dormitories at the Asha Kiran as there is no alternative arrangement for them as yet.

A proposal from the social welfare ministry said that the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital should provide space for the children in the hospital till their new homes in Dwarka and Nehru Nagar - both in Delhi - are constructed. The hospital, on the other hand, has not yet received any such directive from the government.

“A separate ward for the Asha Kiran children in the Ambedkar hospital was proposed by the social welfare ministry. But we have not been given any special directive yet. We will have to wait and see how things shape up,” said V.M. Agarwal, medical superintendent of the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital.

Though the hospital keeps receiving patients regularly from Asha Kiran, no special room for them has been allotted yet.

“This is the nearest hospital. The children are admitted very frequently here. Sometimes we even get seven or eight children in a day. We have allotted separate beds in a ward for these children where they are treated by specialists,” said Agarwal.

However, the hospital asked for the children’s helpers to be in the ward all the time as these children need special attention and the hospital attendants and nurses have to take care of other patients as well. Children below the age of 12 are admitted in the pediatric ward and children older than 12 to the medical ward.

There is no separate team of doctors for the Asha Kiran children but three specialist doctors from the Ambedkar hospital go to Asha Kiran twice a week for regular check-ups, added Agarwal.

Asha Kiran was in news recently when a daily reported that 12 of its inmates had died in one month due to cold weather, tuberculosis, asthma, epilepsy and other curable ailments. The NGO has been operating with limited resources and is housing over 730 inmates against a capacity of 350 children.



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