Heat on 'disability' tag for diabetes
New Delhi, May 12: A parliamentary standing committee's recommendation to include certain "prominent and permanent disabilities" like diabetes, blood cancer and other such diseases in a bill for the disabled has drawn criticism from activists.
The panel, which submitted its report this week, has suggested to the government to expand the purview of the bill to include such diseases as disabilities.
The original bill, drawn up by the social justice and empowerment ministry, mentioned 19 conditions - including autism, hemophilia, thalassemia and speech impairment - up from the seven in the Persons with Disabilities Bill Act, 1995.
The committee wants other "long-term ailments" added to the list, citing demands. These include kidney failure, blood cancer, Type-I diabetes, dyslexia (reading disorder), dysgraphia (writing disorder), dyscalculia (difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic) and dyspraxia (a condition affecting physical coordination).
Other problems like "slow-learning disorders, dwarfism, epilepsy, stroke, dementia, paralysis of the limbs due to spinal cord injury/other reasons" should also be included in the bill, the panel has said.
"The committee recommends (to) the ministry to consider the inclusion of these disorders as....(these are) are long-term diseases, generally incurable and require substantive medical care and expenses throughout life," the committee has said in its report.
It has also suggested that dwarfism be considered a "distinct" disability rather than part of the locomotor disability, as is the case now.
The proposals have surprised many. S.K. Rungta of the National Federation of the Blind said the committee "had been unable to understand the concept of disability".
"These are ailments and diseases, not disabilities. One has to distinguish between the two. This shows the committee has been unable to understand the concept of disability rights. If every long-term ailment is added to the list, the possibilities are endless and the disability rights bill will become a joke," Rungta said.
The ministry has said while the inclusion of the new conditions such as diabetes and cancer would require a "detailed examination", it has pointed out that many of the recommended conditions are already part of the original bill.
"Dyslexia, slow-learning disorders are considered under specific learning disabilities. Similarly, dwarfism is considered under locomotor disabilities. Further, the broad category of chronic neurological conditions take care of paralysis, spinal injury (which can also be considered under locomotor disabilities), stroke, dementia...," the ministry told the panel in its response.
It has also said that "an enabling provision has been kept so that based on technological advancement and understanding of other disorders, the government can notify these as specified disabilities".
Rights activist Amba Salelkar said the inclusion of "long-term diseases" would be "illogical" as they didn't fall under the definition of disability under UN guidelines.
Source: Telegraph India