New Delhi: The government on Thursday launched an initiative under which poor senior citizens with disabilities will be provided physical aids— from walking sticks to wheelchairs and artificial teeth to hearing aids.
The scheme is rooted in the belief that the welfare of senior citizens should be as much a responsibility of the government as it is of society.
Under Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana, the central government will offer free elder care assistive devices like walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers, tripods, hearing aids, wheelchairs and artificial dentures to senior citizens belonging to the below-poverty-line category.
For distributing the devices, the government will organize camps in two selected districts of each state for the entire year. The first two camps will be organized in two districts of Andhra Pradesh on 1 April.
“NGOs and autonomous bodies working with persons with disability have found out that whenever physical aid was being distributed to those in need, a substantial proportion was that of senior citizens. This is that part of our society which is vulnerable and needs help," said Thaawar Chand Gehlot, minister of social justice and empowerment, after launching the scheme, which was announced in Budget 2015-16.
The scheme will be implemented through the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corp., a public sector unit under the social justice ministry.
As per Census 2011, India had about 103.8 million senior citizens in the country and 5.2% (about 5.4 million) of these suffer from some form of old age-related disability. The number of senior citizens is expected to reach 173 million by 2026.