Models of Disability-some perspectives from Nepal

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      Nepal exhibits a mixture of the moral, medical, and social models of disability. While traditional beliefs (moral model) still influence perceptions in some areas, the medical model dominates healthcare services. However, there is a growing shift towards the social model, driven by advocacy groups and progressive policies aimed at reducing societal barriers and promoting inclusivity.
      1. Moral Model
      The moral model of disability views disability as a result of moral failing or a form of divine punishment. This model is less prevalent in modern times but can still be seen in certain traditional and rural contexts in Nepal.

      Examples: In some rural areas, disabilities might be perceived as karma or a result of actions in a past life. Families may face social ostracism or believe they need to perform religious rituals to “cleanse” the disability.
      Impact: This model often leads to stigma and discrimination, where individuals with disabilities are hidden away and not provided with necessary support.
      2. Medical Model
      The medical model views disability as a problem that resides in the individual and focuses on medical treatment and intervention to “cure” or manage the disability.

      Examples: Rehabilitation centers like the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC) and the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) focus on medical treatments, surgeries, and physical therapies to improve the condition of individuals with disabilities.
      Impact: While the medical model can provide essential medical and therapeutic support, it can also sometimes overlook the social and environmental factors that contribute to disability.
      3. Social Model
      The social model posits that disability is created by societal barriers rather than the individual’s impairments. This model emphasizes removing these barriers through inclusive practices and accessibility improvements.

      Examples: Efforts to make public buildings and transportation more accessible, as outlined in the Accessibility Guidelines for Physical Infrastructure and Communication Services, 2013, reflect the social model. Organizations like the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN) advocate for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities.
      Impact: This model promotes a more inclusive society, aiming to reduce stigma and ensure equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

      When I see someone with a disability, I often think about the challenges they might face due to societal barriers rather than their condition itself. My reaction is influenced by a recognition of the need for better accessibility and support systems.
      Growing up, I was mostly exposed to a blend of the medical and social models. While medical interventions were seen as essential, there was also an increasing awareness of the importance of societal inclusion and accessibility.
      Context in Nepal
      Influence of Traditional Beliefs: In some parts of Nepal, traditional beliefs and stigma around disability still persist, reflecting the moral model. However, urban areas and progressive policies are increasingly adopting the social model.
      Changing Perspectives: Initiatives by the government and NGOs are gradually shifting the focus towards inclusivity and accessibility, aligning with the biopsycho-social model.

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