USA/July 04, 2023/https://thesouthfirst.com/CHETANA BELAGERE/Source:
This project, led by iHEAR, aims to improve healthcare education by including disability education in order to create a more equitable future.
In a groundbreaking effort, prestigious institutions from India and the US have come together to launch a project — Disability Inclusive Compassionate Care 2.0 (DICC 2.0) — that aims to transform healthcare education by including disability education.
The project, led by the Initiative for Health Equity Advocacy and Research (iHEAR), aims to give healthcare professionals the right skills and knowledge so that they can offer inclusive and patient-centric care to people with disabilities.
Why the iHEAR project is important
Announcing this on National Doctors’ Day, Dr Satendra Singh, a renowned disability healthcare expert and a physician with a disability himself, told South First, “The project’s core objective is to train a select group of health professional educators who will serve as pioneers, implementing innovative teaching methods in their respective colleges and universities. These methods, which go beyond traditional lectures and slides, will employ storytelling and creative approaches to enhance healthcare education.”
The project represents a significant step towards promoting health equity and transforming societal attitudes towards disability.
By harnessing the power of creativity, empathy, and inclusivity, healthcare professionals will be better equipped to understand the experiences, challenges, and needs of individuals with disabilities, ultimately leading to more equitable and effective care.
Recognising the limitations of conventional teaching methods, the project team has incorporated techniques such as Theatre of the Oppressed, poetry, disability ethics, and graphic medicine.
“By challenging societal norms and fostering empathy and understanding among healthcare professionals, these innovative approaches aim to promote a more inclusive healthcare system,” Dr Singh added.
Dr Satendra Singh’s contribution is unique to this project.
Drawing from personal experiences, he advocates for a healthcare system that recognises and addresses the diverse needs of individuals with disabilities, ensuring their full participation in society.
Speaking about the project, Dr Singh expressed optimism, stating, “To counter ableism and health disparities among people with disabilities, we advocate the use of humanistic tools to impart disability competencies. Our goal is to make health professions education, training, and practice disability-inclusive, accessible, and equitable. This aligns with the recent WHO mandate and disability legislation of training all healthcare workforce in disability competencies.”
Which are the universities involved?
This multi-institution collaboration is between prestigious institutions, both in the US and India, including the University of Chicago (Illinois, US), Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (Nashik), Sangath (Goa), University College of Medical Sciences (Delhi), and Kasturba Medical College (Manipal, Karnataka).
Experts from various fields have united under the iHEAR initiative, pooling their knowledge and resources to effect positive change in healthcare education.
In a press release sent to South First, Dr Kamala Cotts — leading the project from the University of Chicago — emphasised the collective responsibility of healthcare professionals in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
She stated: “As health professionals, we have a moral and ethical imperative to respect the inherent dignity, beauty, and strength in diversity.”
The project will culminate in a national conference where findings, experiences, and best practices will be shared with a wider audience.
Furthermore, a comprehensive teaching guide encompassing the innovative methods used in the project will be developed and made freely available to educators across the country.
This approach ensures the accessibility and widespread adoption of disability-inclusive teaching practices.
Meanwhile Lt Gen (Retd) Madhuri Kanitkar, vice-chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, commended the collaborative effort and highlighted the need for implementation and dissemination of disability-inclusive practices.
She stated: “This success needs to be translated into mass awareness and action through training of educators, most importantly, of health professionals and incorporated into the curriculum in a seamless way.”
As the project gains momentum, it is poised to reshape healthcare education and create a future where individuals with disabilities receive the healthcare they deserve.
The collaboration between these esteemed institutions signals a shared commitment to advancing health equity and ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of quality healthcare.