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Health Ministry notifies RPwD Act rules for hospitals

Almost seven years after the passage of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016, the Union Health Ministry has now notified the standards of public and private healthcare institutions to ensure accessibility of healthcare facilities and services to the persons with disabilities (PwDs).

The RPwD Act, 2016 mandates the Central government to formulate rules laying down standards of accessibility inter-alia for facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas as well as in all parts of government and private hospitals and other healthcare institutions and centres such as Primary health centres, community health centres, Sub-district hospitals, district hospitals, first referral units, dispensaries, medical laboratories and diagnostic centres etc.

Now, the Union Health Ministry has framed the guidelines themed ‘Accessibility Standards for Health Care’ which aims at removing barriers including physical and architectural barriers, communication barriers, attitudinal barriers and social and economical barriers for people with disabilities.

The healthcare providers including hospitals, nursing homes, private clinics, and others such as sub centres, primary health centres, community health centres, sub-district hospitals, district hospitals, first referral units, dispensaries, medical laboratories and diagnostic centres should be made accessible, says the guidelines. A notification signed by Rajiv Majhi, Joint Secretary in the Ministry was issued on May 4.

The standards have been framed by a panel headed by Dr Anil Kumar Gaur, director of All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai. The other members include Dr Naveen Kumar, Additional Professor (PMR) from JIPMER, Puducherry, Dr Sanjay Kumar Pandey, Additional Professor (PMR), AIIMS Patna and Abhishek Bose, architect from CPWD, Union Urban Development Ministry. However, there is no representation or any activist from the disability sector in the panel.

The Standards calls for providing universal access i.e. the facilities are designed ensuring that the environment, facilities, services and products including the information and communication technology services and products can be used by everyone regardless of his ability or disability.

It includes building structure guidelines such as parking, ramps, staircases, lifts, washrooms and drinking water facilities that are applicable to all kind of healthcare facilities including in say ophthalmology, gynecology and cancer covered under the Harmonised Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India, 2021.

Medical equipment and furniture, including the examination tables and chairs, lifts for shirting persons with locomotor disability, gynaecological examination table, radiological diagnostic equipment, mammography equipment and chairs, densitometer and adjustable height stretcher, weighing scales, commodes and shower transfer benches, among others have been defined. Daily Pioneer

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