Rehab Centers for Disabled Lack Funds

Rehab Centers for Disabled Lack FundsRehab Centers for Disabled Lack Funds

A week after the food poisoning case in a Mental Disability Advocacy Center in Pakdasht county of Tehran Province led to three fatalities, Saeed Sa’dabadi, head of the Society for Non-Governmental Disabled People’s Rehabilitation Centers, which is overseen by the State Welfare Organization (SWO), said the centers suffer from “lack of funding and nursing shortage.”

Observing that the expenses for each enrollee, including expenditure on food, clothing, medicine, staff salaries and accommodation add to 15 million rials ($550) per month, the official said “less than a third of this amount is covered by the SWO, and the centers give around 60 percent of the amount in staff salaries,” ILNA reported.

“The problem of fund shortage in rehabilitation centers is worsened due to the fact that the families of inmates cannot afford to pay their share of the expenditure,” he added, stating that “more than 100,000 mentally disabled persons are enrolled in the 900 round-the-clock and 950 non-government daycare centers run by the society.”

 Shortage of Staff

As per SWO guidelines, each center must have at least one nurse per 50 enrollees, one supervisor per 8-12 mentally disabled persons and one doctor during each shift; the official said the centers are facing nursing shortage since the staff tends to leave the rehabilitation centers to work in the hospitals, where they are offered “higher salaries with lighter workloads.”

Referring to the rentals on leasing buildings for the rehabilitation centers as an additional financial burden, the official pointed out that the government earlier used to offer lands and low interest loans to NGOs for construction of rehab centers. “However, since such support was discontinued a few years ago, rental costs add to the monthly expenses of these centers.”    

Meanwhile, following the food poisoning incident, arrest warrants were issued for the owner, license holder and the manager of the advocacy center. Yahya Sokhangooei, an SWO official quoted by ISNA said the arrested persons had been released on bail. He added that the final investigation report of the incident is not ready. The medical examiner’s official report is due to be released within 17 days.