Ensure all supports for individuals with autism, neuro disorders : PM

Capture (700 x 430)THIMPHU (BHUTAN) : Underscoring the necessity for all countries to support their most vulnerable citizens, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hereon Wednesdaysaid it is the responsibility of all to make sure adequate social and medical support for individuals with autism and neuro-development disorders, reports UNB.
“Governments should make policies and programmes to ensure that no individual is neglected. They deserve to have the opportunity to participate in their country’s economic growth,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while inaugurating a three-day ‘International Conference on Autism and Nuero Developmental Disorders’ at the Royal Banquet Hall here.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Dshao Tshering Tobgay also spoke at the inaugural session, kicked off with traditional Marchang ceremony of Bhutan.
Recalling that Bhutan recognized Bangladesh as an independent country on December 6, 1971, Tobgay said they are confident that Bangladesh would be crowned with more successes in the future.
Greetingthe people of Bangladesh on the occasion of Bangla Nababarsha, he said the hosting of the conference is a ‘wonderful coincidence’ in the Autism Awareness Month.
Tobgay thanked Sheikh Hasina for attending the conference despite her busy schedule and acknowledged Bangladesh’s leading role in creating awareness about autism worldwide under her leadership.
Tshering Tobgayalso praised the instrumental role of Saima Wazed Hossain in building awareness about autism and congratulated her as she has been designated as ‘WHO Champion for Autism’ in South-East Asia Region.
Sheikh Hasina said, “Let’s commit ourselves to recognising their multi-faceted talents beyond the diagnosis of the disorder and enable them to live life with dignity and hope in our inclusive society.”
She said no matter where on the spectrum they are, these individuals with ASD and NDDs deserve to live in dignity and be loved by people around them.
Hasina said without a systematic framework designed according to current scientific research on autism and other neuro-developmental disorders, service delivery models cannot be effective, financially feasible, or sustainable in the long run. She said sometimes, even well-standardised programmes remain inaccessible to families living outside major urban cities and beyond their means. “Despite our commitments, there are no established guidelines or models to assist them,” she said.
Hasina said all governments of the world should make policies and programmes to ensure that no individual is neglected.
“We need to recognise that children with ASD and other Neuro-Developmental Disorders (NDDs) need specific educational intervention. It’s of utmost importance to create education systems that would cater to their different and unique learning needs while ensuring access by them to general education systems,” she said.
Hasina regretted that worldwide people and families with ASD are often subject to stigma, discrimination and human rights violations.
Talking about Bangladesh, she said incorporating disability and autism into the mainstream national developmental agenda is one of the country’s priority areas.
For the first time, she said, a nationwide census in Bangladesh has included information on persons living with disabilities including autism. “We’ve taken a number of legislative, social and medical initiatives to address the issue of autism.”
She mentioned that an 8-member ‘Advisory Committee on Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders’ headed by Saima Wazed Hossain helps the national steering committee develop priorities, design programmes, devise implementation strategies, identify necessary resources and provide guidance on the appropriate use of those resources.
Regionally, she said, Bangladesh played a crucial lead role in the formation of South Asian Autism Network (SAAN) and its Charter.
Hasina said Bangladesh’s initiatives and leading role in the field of ASD could not have been generated without the relentless efforts of Saima Wazed Hossain.”Saima has not only raised awareness, but her efforts have contributed significantly to life-changing experiences for many.”
In Bangladesh, she said, she has been instrumental in getting recognition for ASD as a disorder and not a curse, as was often believed by many.
“Her work in this area has been recognised by WHO through her appointment as a member of World Health Organization’s 25-member Expert Advisory Panel on mental health,” Hasina added.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, World Health Organization Regional Director for Southeast Asia, was present at the function as the special guest, while Health Minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Tandin Wangchukk delivered the welcome address.
Parent speaker of the session was Chimmi Lhaden, while Dr Yolanda Liliyana Maya Ortega, founder and executive director of Centro Ann Sulivan del Peru, made a special presentation on ‘The power of two: families and professionals working as partners for children with autism to become independent, productive and happy’.
Bhutanese Queen Jetsun Pema andChairperson of Suchana Foundation andChairperson of Bangladesh National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental DisordersSaima Wazed Hossain were present on the occasion.
While chairing a high-level discussion on ‘Enabling countries to successfully address autism and other neuro-developmental disorders as part of their Sustainable Development Goals’ at the Royal Banquet Hall, the Prime Minister said it is important for all to look for avenues to strengthen efforts to ensure an inclusive development for all, including those with Autism Spectrum Disease (ASD) and Neuro-Developmental Disorders (NDDs).
“As we embark upon implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is important for us to look for avenues that will strengthen our efforts for bringing in an inclusive development for all – in particular for those in vulnerable situations. Persons with ASD and NDD are among those in vulnerable condition,” she said.
Noting that ASD is a complex neuro-developmental disorder caused by an impairment of the growth and development of the brain or central nervous system, the Prime Minister said neuro-developmental disorders have significant impact on mental, emotional, physical and economic wellbeing of the individuals, their family and the community in which they live.
“The disorder affects not only the affected person’s social, educational, professional life and human rights but also across the broad spectrum of economy and development of the community and country in which he/she lives,” she added.