As per the latest report on 2011 census, India has 20.42 lakh disabled children aged between 0 and 6 years. Out of which 71%, that is 14.52 lakh children, are in rural areas. There are 5.9 lakh disabled children in cities. Of them, 11.04 lakh are male and 9.38 lakh are female children. Among them, 1.49 lakh children have multiple disabilities.
All age groups put together, there are more than 41 lakh children with eyesight problems and 47 lakh children with hearing disabilities in the country, reveals the report.
Chairman and founder of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty said that only a paediatrician will be able to detect disability in a child at an early stage. If detected on time, the child can be sent to urban centres to consult specialists. But many of the community health centre in rural don’t have doctor, leave alone paediatricians.
Shett further added, “Even many years after independence, in many villages, women give birth with the help of midwives and not under a gynaecologist’s care. Problems that a pregnant woman faces affects the child also. At times, they are born with mental disability.”
There are more than 5.80 lakh children in this age group with other disabilities like autism and cerebal palsy. Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of children with disabilities. Bihar is next on the list with 2.90 lakh children. Maharashtra has 2.17 lakh children with disabilities. In the south, undivided Andhra Pradesh has 1.27 lakh children, followed by Karnataka – 92,853 – Tamil Nadu – 62,538 – and Kerala – 26,242.
Among the smaller states, Sikkim has the lowest number (628) of disabled children. Assam has the maximum number of disabled children (35,742) in the northeast.
The country’s disabled population has increased by 22.4% between 2001 and 2011. The number of disabled, which was 2.19 crore in 2001, rose in 2011 to 2.68 crore – 1.5 crore males and 1.18 crore females. Rural areas have more disabled people than urban areas. In Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, the disabled account for 2.5% of the total population, while Tamil Nadu and Assam are among those where the disabled population is less than 1.75% of the total population.