‘No help for one of world’s largest disabled populations’

Doctors criticise lack of rehabilitation centres at presser

Our Correspondent January 07, 2016

KARACHI: Mentally and physically disabled people in Pakistan lack proper rehabilitation centres and the number of disabled persons has risen after the increasing number of bomb blasts, terrorist attacks and earthquakes in the country, said Prof Nabila Soomro, president of the Pakistan Society of Neuro-Rehabilitation (PSNR).

"The armed forces have more therapists than civilian institutions," claimed Prof Soomro. She said that the number of patients with stress is increasing and more rehabilitation centres are needed.

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The PSNR is organising a two-day conference, the 'Second National Neurorehabilitation Conference', at Dow University of Health Sciences from January 9 to January 10, where experts in neurological disorders and neurorehabilitation will discuss the important aspects of rehabilitation of disabled persons and highlight the need for rehabilitation centres in Pakistan.

Sharing statistics of disabled persons in the country, Prof Muhammad Wasay, president of the Pakistan Society of Neurology, said that Pakistan has one of the largest disabled populations in the world, with an alarmingly large number of about two million physically or mentally handicapped children, who are 43 per cent of the total disabled population of the country.

"Unfortunately, there are neither adequate number of qualified physicians nor centres for their rehabilitation to make them active members of society, who could lead their lives on their own," he lamented. He said that there are around 1.4 million disabled children in the country.

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Prof Wasay said that 5.03 per cent of the population is disabled and the number goes up by 2.65 per cent every year. "Almost 65 per cent of the disabled persons live in urban areas and the rest in rural areas," he said. He explained that of those, 42 per cent are women, adding that 58 per cent these people are from the Punjab and 28 per cent from Sindh.

The neurologist said a large number of Pakistanis were becoming disabled due to neurological, mental and physical disorders, as well as due to accidents, incidents of terrorism and other reasons. "The centres for rehabilitation of disabled persons, including for children, are almost non-existent in the country," he criticised, adding that, due to this, a large number of people with disabilities, who could otherwise be treated and become active members of society, have become a burden on their families and society.

Dr Abdul Malik, general secretary of the Pakistan Stroke Society and treasurer of the PSNR, said that the neurorehabilitation conference was important, as it raised public and government awareness about the issue and its importance.

He said experts associated with various health facilities and institutions would be participating in the conference and would deliberate upon the importance of neurorehabilitation in the treatment of neurological disorders, management of patients and lowering the burden of disabled persons in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2016.


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