New Delhi: An RTI reply filed recently has come up with the startling information that Delhi government-run medical colleges do not have a Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR). The department is an essential as it is meant to help people with disabilities.
Indian Express reports that the RTI, filed by Dr Satendra Singh, a Professor of University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), stated that PMR departments were absent in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, LNJP Hospital and Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC).
A 1999 resolution adopted by the Central Council of Health Family Welfare, during a meeting had discussed the importance of the health sector playing a role in the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act. The MCI thereafter had issued an instruction that PMR departments be opened in every medical college run by the state.
In 2008, the Chief Commissioner for Disabilities had, instructed the MCI that “doctors not trained in rehabilitation should restrict their treatment of children with disabilities to their medical illness/disease or else action be initiated against such practices”.
This necessitated that doctors pursuing MBBS do the 15 days compulsory PMR training during the internship period. However, pursuing of a three-year MD specialization has to be done after MBBS, by those wanting to master it. AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital as well as other Central Government run hospitals have PMR departments.
The Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital and the Ambedkar hospital justifying the absence of the PMR department stated in their RTI that no such record of the department being mandatory is available with them.
MAMC, on the other hand, said their Department of Orthopaedics has a partially functioning rehabilitation unit, which comprises occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
LNJP Hospital authorities replied, “No action required for us since we already have a rehabilitation facility in the Department of Orthopaedics.”
However, Singh said, “A PMR department and degree is not the same as that of a therapist. To become a PMR, one needs an MBBS degree. But that isn’t the case for physiotherapy. The absence of this department violates Section 25 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, to be read with Article 26 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which India ratified in 2007.”
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in its annual report for 2011-12, had mentioned having sanctioned funds for hospitals in Delhi to start PMR departments. The Delhi Health Department in 2013, is believed to have sent had reminders to the medical superintendents of LNJP Hospital and GTB Hospital asking for budget requirements from the two for the starting of PMR departments. “I, too, had sent a proposal for setting up of a PMR department in GTB hospital in 2013 and 2014 in my capacity as coordinator for persons with disabilities. Despite all of these efforts and guidelines, there is no PMR department,” revealed Singh to the Indian Express.