NEW DELHI: The health ministry has decided to include the Unique Disability Identification (UDID) number issued by the Central government to persons with disabilities to the already existing list of documents of prescribed photo IDs for Covid-19 vaccination.
This is being cited as one of the measures that can further facilitate vaccination for persons with disabilities. Later last month the health ministry had come out with guidelines for “near to home” vaccination centres for elderly and disabled persons.
In April, citing concerns raised by Delhi-based National Federation of Blind about persons with disabilities waiting in long queues for testing, vaccination and treatment for Covid-19 induced ailments, the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities (DEPwD) had sought prioritisation and special provisions for addressing the medical needs of PwDs in the health centres across states. In a letter to the ministry of health and family welfare, DEPwD had cited provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 which mandates priority in attendance and treatment of PwDs.
As of June 7, the number of PwDs holding UDID cards stands at 55.82. The unique ID is issued through a centralised UDID portal under the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities of the ministry of social justice and empowerment. The UDID number has all the necessary features such as the name, year of birth, gender and photograph of the person. Hence the ministry of health has written to all states and UTs saying that necessary provisions will be made in Co-Win to enable the UDID card number to be used for Covid-19 vaccination.
While PwDs can register for vaccination using all the prescribed IDs, the inclusion of UDID to the list of permissible ID proofs for vaccination also opens the possibility in the months ahead for the government to collect data on disabled persons who vaccinate using the UDID number. However, UDID, which is yet to cover a very large number of PwDs, is not as yet a mandatory ID for availing any entitlements or welfare schemes.
With no database of PwDs available, the UDID project of the government was conceived to create a centralised database by verifying all those who apply with their disability certificates on the central portal. That there is still a long way to go, comes through in the fact that the legacy data on disability certificates issued by states adds up to 1.66 crore and out of these about 10 lakh have been verified by states to enable UDID numbers to be issued. Moreover, according to the 2011 Census there were 2.68 crore PwDs.
DEPwD officials explain that for migration of existing legacy data, the data needs to be provided by states/UTs in the desired format of the portal and submitted to DEPwD after getting it verified and approved from their respective health departments. This takes time and the Pandemic has also slowed down the processes at the ground level. However, the DEPwD has set a target of reaching overall coverage of 65 lakh by the end of this year and 80 lakhs by mid next year. Also from June 1 all disability certificates will be issued across states and UTs online and this will enable generation of UDID number for each verified certificate soon after through the centralised portal.