Discriminatory Attitudes among Health Care Professionals
Many people with disabilities Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights in Iran interviewed said that they faced discrimination by health care personnel, including denial of care. There is no publicly available information about the training doctors and other medical personnel receive regarding the rights of persons with disabilities.
Vajiheh, a woman with physical disabilities, said, “Some of those working in hospitals or clinics behave in ways that make me think this is the first time they’ve ever seen someone using a wheelchair in their lives.” Davood, a blind man living in Tehran, described a difficult experience at a hospital. He said, “The environment is so inaccessible, and they require you to go to so many different offices. But there is no one officially responsible to provide assistance, and when they found that I needed help, they finally asked one of the staff to help me. I could hear their pitiful words.… I really felt humiliated.
Persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities and their parents told our researcher that they occasionally faced inappropriate comments or negligence from health care personnel. Azam, the mother of a 12-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, said that once a physician refused to examine her daughter. “When he saw my daughter had Down Syndrome, he blamed me for giving birth at an old age and causing her disability. He then said that if my daughter has a cold, I could give her medicine at home and shouldn’t bring her to the clinic.”
Jafar, a 52-year-old man with a psychosocial disability said, “When I tell the physicians or drugstore staff that I have a mental disorder, their behavior changes and becomes cold and negative. They are scared of us because they are not aware. Even the psychiatrist’s assistants or office secretaries don’t know how to interact with mental health patients.”
We also documented barriers in accessing dental medical care for some persons with disabilities. For example, Arash, a 24-year-old man with muscular dystrophy said, “Muscular dystrophy causes extreme limitations in the muscles. But the dentists I visited did not know about this condition and tried to open my mouth by force. It seems they have not been educated on how to provide dental care to people with different types of disabilities.”
Some parents of children with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities also said they face difficulties finding dental professionals who have the skills for and are patient enough to provide services to their children.