“There are 4,900 Emirati nationals with disabilities living in Dubai but this card will be on offer to expatriates, as well.”
Providing discounts on an array of services including public transport and healthcare, the card falls under ‘My community’ initiative, which was launched earlier this year by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.
“Although we have some data relating to this section of the community, it is not in accordance with international standards. The Sanad card will allow us to identify what disabilities people have and in turn, we can set up a specialised database.”
When asked about the burdening costs of looking after a child with a physical or mental disability, Kamda agreed that more specialised services need to be implemented to help ease the strain on caregivers. “Financing is definitely the heaviest burden for parents of children with disabilities, setting aside the emotional burden of course.”
Categorising the issue into two groups, he said healthcare and education costs prove to be the biggest strain. “Some specialised centres in the emirate charge up to Dh25,000 per child, per month. We think this is unfair.”
Working closely with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to standardise a special insurance card for families of those with special needs, steps are being taken to lower the costs of specialised care requirements. “The CDA have now handed over its recommendations to the DHA, so we can expect to see an insurance card within months.”
However, he did add the CDA currently provides social funding to Emirati families here.
Of the 13 initiatives falling under the ‘My Community’ umbrella, the CDA has initiated nine, including the Sanad Relay Centre for the deaf. With a number of early intervention centres already up and running in the emirate, it is imperative that more specialised disability centres be established to keep in line with the rising population.
“There is a gap in terms of capacity here but the CDA are encouraging private sectors to open these types of centres.”
But with private organisations come higher costs.
Asked whether pricing at these centres would be monitored, Kamda said yes. “We will look to lower the cost at such centres. The CDA provides all its services free of charge, so we want these private sectors to take this on board,” he said.
Breaking the stigma
With a vision to encourage those with disabilities to be “independent rather than dependant”, the CDA’s aim is to have most children in mainstream schools by age six.
At present, it is drafting plans with the Dubai Executive Council to introduce special education assistants into the classroom as a standard. A service which will be at no extra cost to families, he said.
“The schools will bear the cost of this special care, but we are finding that some schools are hesitant to take on children with special needs.” But steps are being taken to instill this confidence in schools.
Currently in the process of establishing a support centre for disability, the CDA will provide support to educational facilities as well as families. “We need to support the school with regards to teacher training. They need to know how to handle these children as it’s not easy,” he said.
To date, the CDA has successfully enrolled 48 children with disabilities into mainstream schools; a figure Kamda hopes to see increase, month by month.
The partners for the Sanad Card initiative are: Dubai Municipality, Dubai Customs, RTA, Dewa, Dubai Police, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, Aramex, Aswaq, Saudi German Hospital, Al Jaber Optical and Nasser Bin Abdullatif Al Serkal Foundation.
Source : Khaleej times , 27th Nov 2014