Health officials in Himachal Pradesh have flagged a case of unusually high incidence of intellectual disability among children from several villages in Barmana area of Bilaspur district. At least 32 children from five panchayats in the area are currently suffering from the disability, according to local health officials, and the state government has been asked to investigate the likely causes of its prevalence.
Intellectual disability, or intellectual development disorder, involves impairment of general mental abilities related to reasoning, problem solving, memory, social judgement, personal care, practical understanding etc, thereby affecting the ability of an individual to perform everyday tasks. There are varying degrees of the disorder.
According to health officials, 20 cases of the disorder have been reported from Harnoda panchayat, five from Gugga Bhater, three from Dhar Tatoh, three from Baloh and one from Beri.
“Many of the children are secondary school students aged 11 to 15. The disorder seemed to be profound in some of the children and one or two of them had violent tendencies as well. They were being given scholarship after obtaining a disability certificate,” said a school teacher from the area.
She added that the actual number of patients could be more. “Parents of some students who showed symptoms of the disorder got offended on being told about it and refused to get their children medically examined,” she said.
Block Medical Officer Dr Shyam Verma said that a report regarding the occurrence of intellectual disorders in the area has been forwarded to higher health officials for further action, and the list of affected children is updated from time-to-time after carrying out medical surveys.
Bilaspur Chief Medical Officer Dr Prakash Daroach said that the state government has been apprised of the cases for further investigation into the matter. He added that cases in the area were being reported for the last 20 years. All the affected villages lie in proximity to Barmana.
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