Revise nursing council clause, say health professionals with disabilities

‘Restricting 5% reservation in B.Sc. Nursing to only those with up to 40-50% lower limb disability is discriminatory, unfair’

Updated - September 05, 2021 05:36 pm IST

Published - September 05, 2021 05:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Holding hands Asian senior or elderly old lady woman patient with love, care, encourage and empathy at nursing hospital ward, healthy strong medical concept

Holding hands Asian senior or elderly old lady woman patient with love, care, encourage and empathy at nursing hospital ward, healthy strong medical concept

The Indian Nursing Council’s (INC) recent notification restricting the 5% reservation for persons with disabilities (PwD) in B.Sc. Nursing courses only to those with lower limb disability, and that too for the 40-50% disabled, has come under criticism from a pan-India group of health professionals with disabilities. The group has now written to the Union Health Ministry and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities seeking the allegedly discriminatory clause be repealed, and that nurses with disabilities and disability rights activists be involved in the framing of new guidelines.

Speaking on the issues, nursing officer Monika Dhankar said that nurses with disabilities have a unique way of connecting with their patients because of their experiences in actually being patients.

“Nursing as a profession embraces the need to avoid discrimination, yet disability as an equal opportunity issue is relatively neglected in nursing. Nursing has a moral, professional and, in some countries, a legal responsibility to promote disability equality in the provision of nursing services,” she said. Ms. Dhankar added that nurses have an obligation to promote disability equality in relation to the provision of health care.

“Adoption of the social model of disability in nursing practice, education and research as a strategy to challenge discrimination should be seriously considered. The utility value of the social model of disability in strengthening the social advocacy role of nurses should be investigated,” she said.

The group in its letter has said that the INC drafted the “revised Nursing Curriculum in the year we commemorated the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, and despite the passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPDA) in 2016, has continued with the discriminatory, unfair, and unethical guidelines that prevent otherwise qualified applicants with disabilities from entering nursing”.

“The Union Health Ministry, which INC also reports to, enabled people with locomotor disabilities to enroll in MBBS with a disability percentage of 50-70%. Furthermore, in 2007, members of the Adhoc Committee established by the Supreme Court recommended expanding disability percentage from 40% to 70% in a gazette notification dated March 31, 2009,” said Satendra Singh, founder, Doctors with Disabilities: Agents of Change, and co-chair, International Council for Disability Inclusion in Medical Education.

He said that the Indian Parliament passed the new disability law, which now has 21 disabilities, in 2016. “The erstwhile Medical Council of India in 2018 modified its guidelines to accommodate candidates with newer disabilities. The INC, however, has defied the new law and not provided 5% reservation to those with upper limb disabilities, dyslexia, low vision, dwarfism, hearing impairment, thalassemia, haemophilia, sickle cell disease, and acid attack survivors, etc., despite the gazette notifying the new revised nursing curriculum,” Dr. Singh said.

The group has said it is a must to amend the discriminatory admissions policies and this should be done in conjunction with nurses with disabilities, disability rights advocates, and nursing educators.

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