Medical Awareness >>   Disability


About 15% of the global population is living with disability and this number is rising. A disability (WHO Definition) is a bodily or mental impairment making the life cumbersome for the patient who suffers from it and is thus unable to carry out his daily activities properly. He is unable to actively participate in interaction with people around him. So key features of any disability are-

  • Activity limitation
  • Participation restriction
  • Impairment

These 3 are called dimensions of disability as per WHO definition of disability. Disability (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) is a physical, mental, cognitive or developmental condition that interferes with a person's ability to engage in certain tasks or activities or actions.

But we should understand that any disability is part of being human. Any individual abled differently is said to be disabled. Hence, as humans anyone and everyone experiences some kind of disability at some point of life. They lose the ability to do a task but are able to cope up with day-to-day life and are having some qualities on the professional and personal front that make them able or special. It is our duty not to treat people with disability differently and give them more opportunities to make them contributing members of our society facing less discrimination and social taboo.

It is believed that a person's environment, the attitude towards a health condition he has and the support he does not get from society has a great impact on the extent of disability he has. Our society is biased for people who suffer disabilities / handicaps / dependence on others for some reason or other and they do not get the kindness they need! They are looked upon with a bad eye and also devoid of the health services they require or deserve. Based on this, it has been surveyed and found that these people suffer horrific socioeconomic outcomes compared to those who are free of disabilities. Inclusive of these socioeconomic outcomes are-

  • Less education
  • High poverty rates
  • Poor health outcomes
  • Lower employment levels

As a result, disabled people are isolated and considered as a stigma especially in India. Either a person suffers disability from time of birth or in neonatal period or acquires a particular disability during his lifetime. Most of the disabilities are untreatable however, with modernized scientific developments in medical treatment tools, some of these disabilities have become curable.

Disability is a contested concept, a topic of debate with shifting meanings in different communities. There are many different types of disabilities and each has a varied etiology. Some commonest disabilities are autism, limb impairment, deafness, blindness, intellectual disability or dyslexia, spine disabilities etc. Broad classification of disabilities -

  • Temporary disability
  • Permanent disability
  • Congenital disability
  • Acquired disability
  • Visible or noticeable disability
  • Invisible/ Hidden / Non-visible or NV disability
  • Episodic disability

The world's most discriminated people are disabled people and they experience violence, prejudice facing barriers of care. According to a WHO report of December, 2020 about 15% of the population lives with disability that includes 93 million children & 720 million adults having difficulties in functioning.

The list of 21 disabilities under RPWD (Right of persons with disability) ACT, 2016 are blindness, low-vision, leprosy cured persons, hearing impairment, limb disability, dwarfism, intellectual disability, mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurologic conditions, specific learning disability, multiple sclerosis, language & speech disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities, acid attack victims and Parkinson’s disease. However, people with disabilities are gifted by their determination to go ahead in life and reach their goals if they have decided upon them. They have a unique complete personality of their own and a gab of being differently abled.

It can be aptly and proudly said that "Disability is not a disease but a gift".

Disability is the outcome of the interaction between people with a health condition and individual and environmental factors, including negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and residing, and inadequate social help.

Individuals with disabilities face severe health outcomes. In addition, they have further limited access to education and work opportunities and are more liable to live in hardship than those without a disability.

Why many discrimination and RPWD acts were passed for disability?

  • Government wants to ensure that persons with disability enjoy right to equality
  • They get a life of dignity and respect
  • They live with integrity in society
  • They get equal job or work related opportunities
  • They are not considered a curse by their families
  • They can prove to be a blessing in disguise for themselves & country
  • They get access to healthcare services equally
  • They developed some vocational skill sets that help them land up in jobs
  • They can earn like normal people and secure their lives
  • They are being treated for their incapacities on right time
  • They do not any sort of communicable disease to other communities or people around them

Similar words for disability-

Cripple, retard, incapacity, affliction, dysfunction, special needs, handicap, defect, ailment, abnormality, disease, infirmity etc.

PGC response-

  • Works to unite and strengthen disability inclusion in health sectors
  • Ensures affected people have impartial maximal access to good health services
  • Ensures affected community is involved in preparedness & response to health emergencies
  • Better access to public health interventions

PGC Resolution-

  • Spreading awareness about different types of disabilities to help overcome misinformation
  • Fundraise for low-income people with disabilities
  • Prevention of disabilities through education
  • Identify opportunities for collaboration with the disability movement
  • To work towards disability inclusion in society
  • To secure and maintain the human and civil rights of people with disabilities

Fact Check-

  • More than a billion people around globe suffer disability in some form or other
  • Half of 1 billion people with disability have no or minimal healthcare access
  • Disability cases are more prone to happen in developing than developed nations
  • Poverty is a predisposing factor so poverty & disability is said to be a vicious cycle in developing nations
  • Disability is more seen in lower income countries
  • Disability is considered as global public health issue and human rights issue
  • Only 9% disabilities are caused by accidents & 91% disabilities are caused by illnesses
  • The average long-term disability claim lasts 34.6 months
  • Number 1 cause of disabilities world-wide are musculoskeletal & connective tissue disorders
  • Number 2 cause of disabilities world-wide are disorders of nervous system or brain & sensory
  • organs