KOCHI: The poor inoculation rate registered by the state’s northern districts in the Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination drive should be viewed against the backdrop of the socio-economic conditions prevailing there instead of merely attributing it to religious reasons, healthcare experts have said. The focus of the debate shifted to religious grounds as the top five Muslim- populated districts of  Malappuram (70.24 pc) Kozhikode(39.24 pc) Kasargod(37.34 pc) , Palakkad(29.93 pc) and Kannur(29.43 pc) performed poorly, with Malappuram recording a measly 40.3 per cent vaccinations. This is despite the public support extended by several influential political and religious leaders belonging to the Muslim community through the social media. However, in terms of the number of vaccinations, Malappuram ranks second only to Thiruvananthapuram.

“The area’s socio-economic conditions must get precedence over the distribution of the population according to religion. If religion was indeed an issue, then Lakshadweep could not have achieved the target in the first phase of immunisation. It is the spread of  falsehoods  mainly due to a lack of scientific temper in the society which is to blame,” said Dr P S Jinesh, who is actively campaigning for the MR Vaccine.“Most of these messages are translations of  writings by Andrew Wakefield, a former British gastroenterologist, and medical researcher. The research findings were later found to be ‘false.’ I’m sure it did not work in the case of Lakshadweep,” he said.

Jinesh said there is not an iota of truth in the reports linking the MR vaccine with autism.  “Autism, which can be identified within 18 months, is a neurodevelopmental disorder. However, the vaccination is given between nine months and 15 years,” he said. Shimna Azeez, a Malappuram-based medical doctor, at the vanguard of the MR campaign said, “ A few years ago, Malappuram was blamed for its lack of educational opportunities. Now you can see  there is a lot of improvement in the district on the education front and even several outstanding students who have won laurels.

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For many parents of autistic children, heartbreak begins with their child’s interactions with an impatient, insensitive society that expects children to fit into certain conventional patterns. Moreover, most schools, care centres and institutions that claim to cater to children with autism are often “black boxes”, where the parents are completely in the dark about their children’s progress or lack of it.

(G. Vijayaraghavan with staff of CADRRE - The Autism School   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA / The Hindu)

G. Vijayaraghavan, as honorary director, would have none of this high-handed approach when he decided to establish a centre for autistic children in the city, Centre for Autism and Other Disabilities, Rehabilitation, Research and Education (CADRRE- The Autism School). “Our idea is to have a place where the parent can come in any time and be there to see how his/her child is being taught and what is happening at the centre once the child reaches our place,” he explains. As is his wont, the technocrat, with years of experience of founding and nursing several start-ups to maturity, has gone in for the best practice methods culled from institutions all around the world that care for autistic children. 

Set up in a sunny, airy building on PMG road, CADRRE promises to be one of its kind in Kerala and the answer to the prayers of many parents of autistic children. A child-friendly centre with classrooms to cater to different kinds of experiences (aural, tactile, visual and so on), there are provisions to teach music, art, sports and gardening under the supervision of psychologists and speech and occupational therapists. All of them visited such institutions in the United States to get acquainted with the best practices followed there. The space outside is being designed to include a play area and a pathway with a range of surfaces to familiarise and enhance tactile skills of the children.

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Source: The Hindu


The Supreme Court of India has questioned the lack of separate schools and distinctly trained teachers for students who suffer from autism, blindness and deafness. 

The apex court observed that it is "impossible to think" that children, who are disabled or suffer from any kind of disability or are mentally challenged, can be imparted education in mainstream schools along with normal children. 

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that access to education has now been regarded as a fundamental right under Article 21A and there was a statutory obligation on the States to provide education under the Rights of Children to Free and Compulsary Education Act, 2009. 

"We are of the prima facie view that the children with special needs have to be imparted education not only by special teachers but there have to be special schools for them," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said. 

The bench asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit keeping its observation in mind in four weeks and specify when the state is going to meet the obligation.

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