Ways to combat the causes of poor access to health for people with disabilities

The world needs to treat people with disabilities equally, but most are ignorant of their needs. Read on to know how to combat the problems faced by them.

disabled people
How to combat the causes of poor access to health for people with disabilities? Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Sandeep Buttan Published on: 3 December 2022, 18:00 pm IST
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It is evident that persons with disabilities are more likely to have poorer health than others. Owing to their impairments, which may be primary or secondary, there is a greater need for health facilities to be provided to disabled people. Sadly, this is also true that the neediest for good health care services are the most denied ones. People with disabilities are often not treated in the best manner. Studies have revealed that people with special needs have a higher ratio of unmet health needs as compared to people with no disabilities. They are also excluded from making fair decisions for their treatment. Moreover, expensive treatments and medicines become unaffordable for them to opt for health facilities.

Challenges faced by people with disabilities

In developing or low-income nations, the general problems faced by people with disabilities are;

  • Poor health infrastructures
  • High chances of chronic illness that may also lead to disability
  • Economic hardships – poverty and lack of money to get health checkups
  • Social barriers – stigma, labelling, stereotyping, lack of social acceptability
  • Physical barriers such as distance and transportation facilities etc.
people with disabilities
How to make it easier for people with disabilities? Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

This needs to change and the mindset needs to evolve. For those facing physical disabilities, the picture is different from what we perceive in our daily lives. Running behind a metro, cab or bus is usual for us but a challenge for them. Therefore, it is important to understand things from their lens to make the necessary changes.

Ways to make healthcare accessible to physically disabled

To combat the causes of poor access to health for people with disabilities, specific measures can be taken care of. Making things convenient for them would be the next step towards making their lives easier.

1. Firstly, it is of utmost importance to believe that disabled people are no less human beings, in fact, they deserve better.
2. The intention behind increasing access for the disabled implies the creation of such an environment that brings more inclusion than segregation.
3. Reorganizing primary and secondary health care units to have disability inclusion as well.
4. Reorganization of rehabilitation centres along with the inclusion of psychologists and well-trained staff to improve the mental health of patients.
5. In all public places including the health care units, instead of having only stairs, narrow passages, and thresholds, there need to be more elevators and wide doorways to facilitate wheelchair movements.
6. Moreover, wheelchairs in such particular places should be readily available.
7. Apart from stairs, ramps should also exist at healthcare units so that wheelchairs and mobility scooters can easily make their way in.
8. Having accessible washrooms for disabled people is a must-have.
9. Replacing regular fire alarms with audio-visual fire alarms, for people with hearing difficulties.
10. Healthcare and wellness providers to get efficient training in communicating and helping people with different needs.
11. Healthcare staff should avoid making presumptions about the patients sitting in wheelchairs without listening to their side of the story.
12. Health promotion instructions written in a certain way become a challenge for persons with intellectual disabilities.
13. Medical bills and prescriptions should also be made available in Braille formats for people with vision impairments.
14. Spots to charge mobility scooter batteries.
15. Access to regular health screenings of people with special needs.

disability
People with disability deserve equal treatment. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What actually leads to Disability?

Increase in chronic health conditions, congenital disorders, accidents, and the after-effects of many pandemic diseases such as COVID-19 pandemic disease among other significant reasons.

To combat disability and inclusion, we need to focus on some grounds and make progress with them. Here’s how you can change your perspective and what needs to be done to help people with disabilities.

1. The lack of understanding about disability and inclusive health within any organization/institution is one of the biggest hindrances behind having an “inclusive and harmonious environment.
2. Negative attitudes and stereotyping should be completely done away with. Incorporation of a positive mindset that sees every other person as his/her equal is the need of the hour.
3. To solve this issue, awareness should be spread regarding a shared understanding of disability based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Commitment to universal health coverage would further contribute to a healthier environment.
4. Access to health information should be widespread. The communication material and the health programs should be inclusive and disabled-friendly and must reach the maximum audience.
5. The top management of any organization needs to be in alliance with incorporating health policies for their firm. Hence, encouraging them and informing them more about disability issues would increase their commitment to disability-inclusive health programming. Next, a budget must be fixed in every organization to help the disabled section.
6. Moreover, efficient training for the staff regarding disability inclusion and recruiting ‘champions’ would encourage collaboration with disabled people’s organizations and other groups working on disability inclusion.
7. The company’s infrastructure should be disabled-friendly. The infrastructure should include ramps, elevators, wheelchairs, battery scooters, etc.
8. When it is to the health conditions of disabled people, it is important to include them in decision-making matters. Exclusion and discrimination need to be eliminated.
9. The analysis of the disability data should also be conducted by firms and organizations.
10. Lastly, collaborating with disabled people’s organizations that focus on varied impairments is the best solution to make a change.

Having said that, things are changing for the better. Governments are trying to recognize more disabled people and offer them the best facilities. In addition, with the possible changes stated above things will start falling in line. We as a whole should focus on breaking the barriers in the lives of disabled people and making their daily routines far easier. Also, if we eliminate cognitive biases from our minds regarding any individual or other creatures, we would undoubtedly prosper as a far more progressive nation than ever.

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About the Author
Dr Sandeep Buttan Dr Sandeep Buttan

Dr Sandeep Buttan, Technical Lead Eye Health ASIA, Sightsavers

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