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Disabled medicos face hurdles

Shiv Sunny, New Delhi, June 10, 2013, DHNS: 2:08 IST

Infra facilities not available at medical colleges

“Is any medical institution in the country capable of inviting the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to deliver a lecture,” asks Dr Satendra Singh, coordinator of enabling unit of UCMC.

This one question highlights the condition of medical institutions and hospitals when it comes to providing barrier-free access to the disabled.

Singh says physical barriers such as inaccessible libraries, lecture halls and hospital campus dissuade people with disabilities from taking admission in colleges despite reservations for them.

He had petitioned the office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) to provide accessible environment to the disabled in medical institutions. The CCPD had to forward it twice to the Medical Council of India before it asked the colleges to submit a compliance report in this regard.

But Singh wants the MCI to make it mandatory for colleges to provide accessible institutions. “The action taken by them is mere eyewash,” says Singh. But it has done enough to encourage him to continue petitioning the authorities to make it mandatory.

Those fighting alongside Singh, or for this cause, say their suggestions are often shelved for long and when they are implemented, there is much lacking.

“We conducted accessibility audits for all Delhi University colleges in 2007-08. We had given our reports and suggestions with drawings and illustrations to make campuses disabled-friendly. But the managements neither take a look at the audits nor do they consider them,” says Anjlee Agarwal, executive director of NGO Samarthyam.

The NGO evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in buildings and outdoor environments.

“Just having a ramp, but no access to toilets or libraries, will still continue to dissuade people from taking admissions. Every service that others have access to must be made available for the disabled,” adds Anjlee.

Few little successes keep Singh petitioning still. His efforts have seen the installation of two disabled-friendly ATMs in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. Differently-abled students at UCMC now get a leniency time of 15 minutes to reach.

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