x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

All Emirati families should receive support for children with special needs, FNC members say

Parents should no longer be means-tested and made to pay for extras if they are deemed to be on good wages, they said

Hamad Al Baloushi was not eligible for social services support for his disability, a form of palsy, because of his father's income. When he became an adult, he qualified for Dh5,000 per month, which he uses to pay for a car to reach college, and saves the other half. Vidhyaa for The National
Hamad Al Baloushi was not eligible for social services support for his disability, a form of palsy, because of his father's income. When he became an adult, he qualified for Dh5,000 per month, which he uses to pay for a car to reach college, and saves the other half. Vidhyaa for The National

Support for children with special needs should be given to all families regardless of their parents’ salaries, members of the FNC said yesterday.

Mothers and fathers should no longer be means-tested and made to pay for extras if they are deemed to be on good wages, they said.

Dubai representative Hamad Al Rahoomi shared case studies of Emirati families that he said were struggling to get treatment or support in clinics and special learning centres.

The Ministry of Community Development was formally asked to “provide ‘people of determination’ with a source of social support income not linked to their father’s salary, to serve their special needs and secure a decent, sustainable life for them”.

At present, the ministry requires financial documents from parents and if the salary of the father exceeds Dh20,000, officials consider the case not illegible for financial support.

The procedure is not written into law but was introduced through a ministerial decree, the chamber heard.

_______________

Read more:

A passion for helping those with disabilities find a full place in society

Half of UAE residents cannot afford future health bills, Cigna survey reveals

Northern Emirates residents call for mandatory health care

Watchman in Fujairah struggles with medication costs due to lack of cover

_______________

Members said the ministry should abide by the law, which states that any person who is disabled person, whether physically or mentally, who has no sufficient source of income deserves social support.

Mr Al Rahoomi said some people with challenging disabilities required round-the-clock care and special equipment, much of which is not covered by standard health insurance.

“I received a case of a nine-year-old who suffers from brain damage and requires care from morning until night,” he said.

“His father’s salary is Dh30,000, but it is not all allocated for this child. He has other children and commitments.”

This child requires tubes to remove his mucus, nappies, two oxygen breathing masks in case one stops working, and an antibiotic drip, Mr Al Rahoomi said.

“I have received about 10 such cases and I am sure there are many more. Those are the ones that reached me directly.”

Minister Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid said such cases should be supported, although they are considered on a case-by-case basis. She said she would look into them herself.

But Mr Al Rahoomi insisted on the official recommendation that the ministry “puts an end to this link between social support and the father’s salary”.

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, the Speaker of the FNC, said the issue had been first raised years ago and had apparently not been resolved.

“For five years we have been addressing this issue,” Dr Al Qubaisi said. “When I was first a member we used to raise this to former minister Maryam Al Roumi, and there was a promise that it would be considered because the proposition is valid.”

Social support assists disabled people with basic needs and treatment, and enables them to be productive in society and earn a livelihood.

Several families said they spent much of their income on supporting relatives with special needs.

Nawal Al Ameri said her 16-year-old brother, who was born with a hearing problem, struggled to receive social support because her father’s salary was about Dh24,000.

“My father used to hire a speech private tutor for Dh5,000 a month, but now he is retired and cannot afford the tutor any more,” Ms Al Ameri said. “My brother stopped these private lessons three years ago.”

As a caregiver for others with special needs, she said she knew many cases where parents’ salaries barely covered their costs.

“Even if it were above Dh30,000 they have other responsibilities,” Ms Al Ameri said.

She said another problem was that the ministry only gave financial support through the father, so if the couple were divorced authorities would not give the mother support unless her former husband applied for it.

Azza Hashel, whose eight-year-old twins are both disabled, stopped receiving social support because her former husband, a serviceman, is on duty abroad and cannot renew the application in person.

“I used to receive Dh1,000 for each,” Ms Hashel said. “It barely covered the costs but now I don’t receive anything.”

She pays about Dh4,000 for each child’s education and treatment each month, in addition to taking care of her other six children.

Hamad Al Buloushi, who has a form of palsy, was unable to secure support when he was growing up.

“About 10 years ago we applied for it but they rejected us because my father is a businessman,” said Mr Al Buloushi, 21, who is now a martial arts competitor.

Two years ago, he reapplied and was accepted. He receives Dh5,000 a month.

“It has helped me a lot because now I go to college and I pay the car payments myself every month, and my own personal expenses,” Mr Al Buloushi said.

“I feel reluctant to always request money from my father. He has many other responsibilities.”

He saves about half of the Dh5,000 each month so he can stand on his own feet when he graduates.