An initiative to provide quality and equitable care to patients with disabilities

NEW DELHI: The University of Chicago Medicine; Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence; and Medical Humanities Group, University College of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi – a US-India collaboration ( – jointly organised a Focus Group Discussion (FGD), with the theme, ‘No one left behind’, with disability rights activists, doctors with disabilities, and health profession educators, as part of its agenda, Disability-Inclusive Compassionate Care: Core Competencies on Disability for Health Professions Education, at the University of Chicago Center in New Delhi, on November 21.

The aim of the discussion was to develop a consensus on the disability competencies that should be acquired by health professionals during training so that they can provide quality and equitable care to patients with disabilities.

The Leprosy Mission Trust India (TLMTI), by virtue of its work with people affected by leprosy (leprosy is a leading cause of permanent physical disabilities among communicable diseases) and people with other disabilities, was invited for the discussion, and Ms Nikita Sarah, Head of Advocacy and Communication, TLMTI, represented the organisation.

Nikita, during the discussions, highlighted the plight of leprosy patients, “Changing the guidelines to reflect disability competencies would help build more empathy in doctors. As someone who wears two hats, one as a person working in the disability sector, and two, as a parent to a child with autism, this is very important. There is a major problem faced particularly by leprosy patients. One, treatment of leprosy is optional in medical colleges. When students are sent to polio awareness camps, why is this the case? As a result, leprosy patients are highly stigmatized. Doctors are often not willing to touch them and do things like hold their eyelids up with pencils. Doctors need to be more empathetic and have an attitude change.”

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