Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6 shows that disability remains misunderstood

Source: The post is based on the article “Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6 shows that disability remains misunderstood”  published in Indian Express 1st September 2023

What is the News?

The Government of India has decided to omit disability-related questions from the sixth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-6).

What is the National Family Health Survey(NFHS)?

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When was disability related questions included in the NFHS Survey?

The questions on disability were included for the first time in the NFHS-5 which was carried out during 2019-21.

Based on the NFHS-5 report, it was observed that disability prevalence was only 1% for rural areas and 0.9% for urban areas.

However, National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) estimates for the year 2018 showed 2.3% for rural areas and 2% for urban areas.

Why has NFHS-6 decided to omit disability-related questions?

According to the Ministry of Health, the disability related questions are not included in NFHS-6 as the disability data will not change very fast and there is no reason to collect this data every time.

This decision has been criticized as the persons with disabilities make up around 2.21% of India’s population, totaling about 2.68 crore people according to the 2011 Census.

The Census data does not fully represent the current disabled population due to population growth over the past decade and the limited categories of disabilities recognized in the Census.

What are the other issues faced by disabled people in government policy making?

Limited Understanding of Disability: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation) report on ‘Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in India — A Statistical Profile: 2021’ refers to only eight categories of disabilities. 

– It fails to acknowledge and account for the 21 categories of disabilities recognised in law after the enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWDA).

Invisible disability not acknowledged: Niti Aayog’s visionary blueprint, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, which delineates the government’s goals for 2022-23, recognises the challenges posed due to a lack of detailed data in drafting policies for persons with disabilities. 

– However, the document lacks measures for those with invisible disabilities such as mental health conditions. 

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