Delhi: Sightsavers India organised a national online consultation on the draft, “Accessibility Standards for Healthcare”, developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The consultation was organised to the call for inputs and suggestions by the Ministry to finalise the Accessibility Standards for Persons with Disabilities in Healthcare. The consultation included individuals from national and international level organisations such as the Public Health Foundation of India, The Leprosy Mission Trust India, HelpAge India, Lepra India, Humanity and Inclusion, Sense International India and Swadhikar. The inputs and suggestions from this consultation will be tabled with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for bringing necessary changes to the draft standards.
Accessibility has been defined by the UN as “giving equal access to everyone” which involves not only providing access to all possible facilities but also to all the services. Recognising that access to healthcare is an important aspect of providing equal rights and opportunities to persons with disabilities, the Government of India (GoI) has drafted a manual on ‘Accessibility Standards for Healthcare’. At this juncture, when the manual is in its draft stage, the Government of India has sought suggestions and recommendations on this document.
Giving the keynote address to the consultation, Dr GVS Murthy, Director, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad and Vice President (South), Public Health Foundation of India, said, “We must try to make the healthcare system more accessible for people with disabilities since there is nowhere on earth where people with disabilities do not encounter hurdles to receiving medical care”. Persons with disabilities should be of important concern for any health system as their needs for healthcare are more than the other segments of the population.”
Speaking at the consultation event, Sightsavers India CEO, RN Mohanty said, “Standards for healthcare accessibility for people with disabilities are essential to the realisation of universal health coverage. The government’s draft guidelines for disability-inclusive healthcare are a welcome step in the right direction. However, issues around attitudinal, communication and financial barriers must be resolved for securing the overall wellbeing among persons with disabilities.”
The recommendations from this consultation will be shared with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, for their consideration. It is hoped that this would mark the beginning of better healthcare for persons with disabilities in the country.