Recognize Inflammatory Bowel Disease as a Disability in India sign now

Amongst the list of invisible illnesses, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is one that's still disparaged and overlooked in India. It's disconcerting to see how unaware and insensitive our society is towards a condition as incapacitating as IBD. It's symptoms include:

1. Diarrhea

2. Abdominal pain and cramping

3. Fever and fatigue

4. Blood in your stool

5. Reduced appetite

6. Unintended weight loss

On top of that, the disease has detrimental emotional effects. The most tormenting fact about IBD, besides being incurable, is that it's reason or source is still unknown. And chances of developing colorectal cancer are 6 times greater among its patients. Which is why there is an earnest need to acknowledge IBD as a disability.

Countries like US and UK have already taken that step. Whereas India still defines the term disabilty solely based on the medical model, which entails blindness, low vision, leprosy, hearing impairment, loco motor disability, mental retardation and illness as the only forms of disability (Persons with Disability Act, 1995). This is utterly rudimentary compared to WHO's definition which incooperates the social model as well and identifies disability as a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society.

In Punjab, a total population of 51,910 was screened from January to March 1999.147 suspected cases were identified and of these, 23 were finally established as ulcerative colitis, giving a crude prevalence rate of 44.3 per 100 000 inhabitants. This was the first survey ever conducted in our country. The disease frequency was found to be comparable to that reported from Europe and North America. There isn't a record of an official survey like this being conducted ever again. And 16 years since, the social media has become a testament of proliferation of IBD amidst an unexpectedly high percentage of Indian citizens.

IBD is no longer a western-urban disease. India is no longer unscathed by it's ugliness. Our government needs to concede that diseases have evolved over the years and our constitution needs amendments so that no citizen feels isolated. We cannot allow a disability to be a limitation in our society. Because that's the entire point of democracy, to adapt and evolve for the betterment of the people.

The only way we can achieve that goal and make our society more understanding towards people suffering from this disease is by recognizing IBD as a legal disability. The government should also issue a disability identity card for the same, which would allow a person certain privileges such as being able to use restrooms in several private places etc. These are only the basic rights that a law abiding citizen can ask for.

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Somil SharmaBy:
HealthIn:
Petition target:
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

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