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Raw Deal for Mentally Challenged
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Raw Deal for Mentally Challenged

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was marked on December 3 with numerous events launched in Iran and around the world. The Social Welfare Organization (SWO) as the official body tasked with caring for the disabled in Iran announced new programs for the physically challenged.
The president of the Iranian Handicapped Neda Association (IHNA) in a recent interview with ILNA voiced his concern over the lack of attention to the mentally disabled. Mahmoud Kari maintained that the work done by the SWO for people with mental and intellectual disabilities “is grossly inadequate,” and regretted “the least amount of care” for these people.
“Families with mentally disabled members are paid only $16 each a month by the SWO and if the person is sent to a special care center, the family receives $130 as aid money,’’ Kari said. ‘’ He suggested that the SWO pay a reasonable amount to the families to provide sustainable care for their mentally disabled members.’’

 Unrealized Promises
Kari referred to the commitments made in the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-2016) to pay a monthly salary equal to at least half the official minimum monthly salary  ($200) announced by the ministry of labor to families who care for mentally disabled children at home.’’ The government was obliged to carry out this plan but so far this hasn’t happened,’’ Kari said.
He emphasized that the lack of support has caused “a great deal of difficulty for people with mental disabilities and their families.”
He also lamented academic deprivation of the mentally disabled and noted that “those with mild intellectual disabilities are deprived of education, while many of them are capable of learning.” Unfortunately, there are few special needs schools and the education department for special needs also offers little support for these people, he noted.

  Employment
Exclusion from the work force is another challenge for persons with mental disabilities. Kari says the mentally disabled are capable of doing some kind of work and education will enable them to join the work force. He is nevertheless optimistic about the plan launched by the Technical and Vocational Training Organization to train the mentally disabled to prepare them for future jobs.
The conditions in mental disability advocacy centers are not conducive for their welfare as “the centers do not meet the standards in their services. One nurse for every 15 mentally disabled persons is way below the standards,’’ he noted.
The centers are forced to seek contributions from the families to compensate for the insufficient government support, he added.

  Hefty Costs    
Meanwhile, the director of the Mental Disabilities Office at the SWO said “over 213,000 persons with mental disabilities are covered by the organization.” Saadati said 1,400 among them are orphans.
Saadati referred to the hefty costs of caring for the mentally disabled saying that each person costs up to $166 per month while “the government aid received by the SWO in this regard is far below the figure.”
If it weren’t for charitable donations from communities, “our work would have been seriously hampered,’’ said Saadati. He hoped that a government plan for increasing the aid for mentally disabled would soon take effect.   

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