Friday, August 8, 2014

Medical colleges flout disabled-friendly rules

Times of India, 30 July 2014

NEW DELHI: If you are disabled and believe that at least the hospitals will be sensitive to your needs, you are in for some disappointment. For, more than a year after Medical Council of India issued its circular seeking compliance reports stating the degree to which the institutions are accessible to disabled, only 52 medical colleges responded.

In fact, RTI replies this year revealed that even Medical Council of India has not issued directions to medical institutions to appoint sign language interpreters or make their websites accessible to visually impaired persons.

MCI asked medical colleges to submit the compliance report on March 29, 2013. And, in April 2014, Delhi high court observed that "health is not a luxury" and that it "should not be the sole possession of a privileged few".

"MCI should take this seriously and include disabled persons in all policy decisions," said Satendra Singh, professor of physiology at University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, who had made a representation to the chief commissioner of PWD on the same issue last year.

The letter from Medical Council of India (MCI) to medical colleges last year was reportedly a result of this representation. Singh had also asked for access audits to be made a mandatory part of MCI's inspection before accreditation.

Those who responded to MCI's circular include All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi apart from Gold Field Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Faridabad, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital, Assam, Peoples College of Medical Science and Research Centre, Bhopal, and GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad.

But MCI, too, has not maintained data like number of medical institutions having a physical medicine and rehabilitation department in India and details of enabling units for persons with disabilities in medical colleges.

Dubbing many of these efforts an "eyewash", Singh said that All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi had constituted a committee following the directive but still major parts like the library are inaccessible as the committee did not include disabled persons.

An access audit to make medical colleges barrier-free was conducted by an NGO in the capital, but the report has not yet been implemented, he informed.

Singh also said that a majority of the hospitals lack accessible toilets, there is no provision for separate queues or reserved parking for patients with disabilities and even Medical Council of India inspections do not include access audits.

"It's the social accountability of medical institutions to protect the right to health of disabled persons. Being in hospital is a worrying time for any patient, but imagine what it is like if you are unable to communicate with the doctor in an emergency room," Singh said.

He added, "Are deaf patients not entitled to live a healthy life? Why are blind patients unable to find a doctor of their choice or find out their OPD timings from hospital websites? It's simply because they haven't been made readable to them".

Also read:
Most medical colleges ignore directive on facilities for disabled
AIIMS plans access to disabled, others silent
MCI asks all medical institutions to be 'accessible' 

A metro ride turns into a nightmare

The Hindu, 29 July 2014, Delhi

Wheelchair without footrest at Metro station
Dr. Satendra Singh, a polio survivor and assistant professor of Physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital was in for a rude shock when he decided to take a ride in the Delhi Metro.

The doctor, who was travelling from the Vaishali metro station to Rohini East this past Sunday, first found that reserved parking for differently-abled persons at Vaishali was occupied by cars which did not have the right to park there.

His ordeal, however, had just begun. After getting into a rather crowded metro, the doctor was forced to stand throughout his journey to the Kashmere Gate metro station (where he had to change his train) because none of his co-passengers got up to offer him the seat reserved for differently-abled persons.

“At Kashmere Gate, I decided to ask for and use a wheelchair as my journey was long and I was already exhausted. I approached the metro staff at the counter with my request and was given a wheel chair with no foot rest. I pointed the obvious lapse to the supervisor at the counter telling him that the wheelchair cannot be used as my feet would drag on the ground. After complaining the wheel chair was replaced,’’ said the doctor, who is also an RTI activist.

Mr. Singh added that though the supervisor at the metro station did make an entry about the use of a wheel chair, no assistance was provided to help him in registering his protest or suggestion.

“While the metro official did note down my phone number, name and destination, he just turned away when I asked him to help me with registering my complaint with customer care. I later did call up the metro helpline, which informed me about the various facilities offered to differently-abled persons on the Delhi Metro including priority parking close to the station,” said Dr. Singh.

Demanding a more hands-on approach to help differently-abled persons travel with ease, Dr. Singh said: “Adequate parking facilities, help by the general public to give reserved seats, proper maintenance of wheel chairs and prompt registration and redress of complaints would go a long way in ensuring a stress-free travel. This should be provided as a matter of right to differently-abled persons travelling on the Metro.”

Source: Hindu