Mandatory registrati ..

Mandatory registration needed for all therapy centres in state

Sudha Nambudiri | TNN | Jun 28, 2020, 04:24 IST

Kochi: The state government has issued a gazette notification declaring the guidelines prescribing minimum standards for registration of therapy centres in Kerala. With this, all therapy centres will have to be registered with the social justice department, which will have a state-level monitoring committee set up with secretary, social justice department (SJD) as chairman. The other members include SJD director as convener and director of health services as joint convener and will have six members including social security mission head.

The therapy centres include speech and language therapy, audiology/hearing aid centre, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, rehabilitation/clinical psychology and therapy for autism. At the institutional level, monitoring will be done by respective professional agencies, including Child Development Centre (CDC), National Institute Of Speech And Hearing (NISH), Institute for Communicative and Cognitive Neuro Sciences (ICCONS), National Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (NIPMR) and Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS)
TOI was the first to expose the lack of regulation and registration of therapy centres which were handling persons with special needs. Enquiries revealed that neither the health nor the social justice, women and child departments had any authority over therapy centres.

Our series of articles began from April 24, 2015 (Group raises concern of special kids). More follow-up stories revealed the shocking fact that therapy centres were functioning under shops and business establishments. Our series of articles led the then Ernakulam district collector M Rajamanickam to order a probe by health department. The state child rights commission also passed directives to the state government seeking regulations. The articles went on to be part of the public interest litigation filed in the high court.

During the hearings, the government submitted that guidelines have been formulated for functioning of therapy centres. In its judgment, the court asked the state to issue the guidelines and ensure that all centres are registered with a fixed timeline.
The campaign for regulations began with a group of women, some mothers of children with autism and others legal experts, and activists coordinated by a special educator and psychologists under the umbrella of TogetherWeCan.

Under the new notifications, the qualifications of all therapists are defined, and specifications have been issued while setting up therapy centres. Now, all therapy centres providing services to persons with disabilities under a regulatory mechanism need registration before a competent authority notified by government as per Sec.49 of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

TogetherWeCan is an advocacy group addressing the rights of children with autism spectrum disorder and other neurological disabilities. It is an informal group that started off as a WhatsApp group and Facebook page, about two years ago. Today, it enjoys the steadfast support of 2000 plus people from all walks of life, including professionals, parents, disability rights activists, media, students, and general public, from across the country and abroad. TogetherWeCan, based out of Kochi, Kerala, is a true indicator of how a small group of committed people can actually make a difference.

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