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Unfair that disabled cannot practice MBBS, say experts to Nadda

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 13, 2019 Published on February 13, 2019

Union Health Minister JP Nadda. File Photo

Union Health Ministry's revised regulations prohibiting those with certain disabilities from getting admitted to MBBS has attracted ire from activists and experts.

The revised regulations state that those with locomotor disabilities above 80 per cent are prohibited from getting admitted to MBBS, as it pronounces them “ineligible”.

The latest “Amendment Notification” of February 4, 2019 to modifying the Regulation on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 states these clauses.

Same is true with those with blood disorders. The notification also debars students with chronic neurological conditions with a disability of over 80 per cent. It further states that those with visual impairment and hearing impairment would be eligible only if their disability is brought down to less than 40 per cent with the aid of assistive devices.

In the new notification, dysgraphia – the inability to write coherently, has been excluded from Specific Learning Disabilities (SpLD). Experts find this intriguing. “The notification does admit that currently there is Quantification scale available to assess the severity of SpLD. We however, apprehend that this will be utilized to deny admission to students with Specific Learning Disorders,” said Muralidharan Vishwanath, General Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD).

Activists have urged Union Health Minister JP Nadda seeking revision of discriminatory regulations for admissions to MBBS.

“These amended regulations debarring certain categories of disabled persons from pursuing medicine is a clear violation of the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and the rules framed thereunder. It is also in contempt of the Supreme Court directions,” said Muralidharan.

The revision of regulations was based on what NPRD had deemed highly objectionable guidelines published by Medical Council of India last year.

“These guidelines were drafted without proper application of mind, oblivious of the best practices worldwide and divorced from the reality that advances in science and technology have become great enablers,” said Muralidharan.

“Permit me to quote, Stanley F. Wainapel who says, how many physicians who are not specialists in the medical care of people with disabilities would be aware that a paraplegic doctor can stand up in the operating room using a special device, that a physician whose vision precludes reading chart notes can easily access electronic medical records using screen-reading software, or that a medical student with a hearing impairment can do cardiac auscultation using an electronic stethoscope? These examples of existing technological accommodations emphasize the central role of technology in enhancing the functional potential of those with motor or sensory limitations.”

Noted Hemato-oncologist, Suresh Advani who was awarded the Padma Vibhushan is a living example of a wheel chair user with disability of above 80 per cent, stated the NPRD letter to Nadda

“Making such persons “ineligible” in fact militates against the suggestion made by your ministry that persons having a disability of above 80 per cent may be allowed subject to their functional competency being determined with the aid of assistive devices post their selection,” the letter further states.

NPRD has urged Nadda to direct the MCI to reframe guidelines that would act as an enabler for persons with disabilities to pursue a career in medicine rather than act as a deterrent.

“We also opine that department/institutions like Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, ICMR, DGHS, Directors of all National Institutes on Disabilities under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment as well as experts from other institutions who jointly framed disability assessment guidelines, also be involved in this process, as they are better equipped to deal with disability related issues,” states the letter.

Published on February 13, 2019
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