14 ministries working on autism rights in BD



Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh and member of the WHO’s Advisory Panel on Mental Health, Saima Wazed Hossain, on Friday said 14 ministries are now working coordinately in Bangladesh to ensure rights of the persons with disabilities, especially autism, their access to education, employment and other socio-economic activities.

She was addressing as a panelist at a discussion on “Bridging the Inequality Gap (Goal10 of SDGs)” at the UN while attending the inaugural session of the day-long programme by the UN in observance of the World Autism Awareness Day, according to a message received here from Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.

Goal10 is one of the 17 goals of Sustainable Development Goals that is targeted to improve and promote the social, economic and political inclusion for all irrespective of age, sex, disability or religion to ensure inclusiveness in the country’s’ socio-economic development.

Replying to a question of the moderator of the panel about the effects of multi-sectoral approach to autism that are being implemented in various countries, especially Bangladesh, Saima Wazed said, since 2009, a massive country-wide awareness programme is being implemented.

Bangladesh hosted the first ever international conference on autism in Dhaka in 2011 where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sonia Gandhi of India made statements that created huge positive impact in the region so that the people started talking about addressing autism.

Daughter of the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, and a renowned school psychologist, Saima Wazed Hossain said the rural-based institutions of the 14 ministries, including social services centers, community health clinics, and rural development organizations, have been providing services to the autistic persons and their families through reshaping their existing services and development programmes.

Parental meetings and training, training for doctors and field-level health and social workers, education, etc. are being done in a coordinated way.

As a result, the ownership of the issue has been shifted from the autistic family members and experts to the policymakers, members of the parliament, government officials.

“Everyone is now recognising that they need to do something differently for the autistic persons and that make a huge difference in evolving creative and innovative ideas for them and their families,” she asserted.

Permanent representative of Bangladesh at the UN Masud Bin Momen and other officials of the mission attended the programme.

Earlier, welcoming the full-house participants from all counties, social organisations, international organisations, and NGOs in the inaugural ceremony including persons with autism have won their limitations, Under-Secretary General for Communication and Public Information of the UN, Cristina Gallach said this function would highlight the rights of autistic persons, including equal opportunities and full participation in the society on an equal basis.

The Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon in his video message said the main aim of the SDGs is inclusive development where no one should be left behind.

So, it’s the duty of all to ensure the rights of the people with autism.

The inaugural function was also addressed by the President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykktoft.

Author of the book “Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity” Steve Silberman presented the keynote on autism and its past and present.

Saima Wazed Hossain has been invited at the UN programmes in observance of the World Autism Awareness Day every year since 2012 as an international autism expert.

She has won acclaim for her commitment to create autism awareness globally.

In the afternoon, a high level event on “Addressing Autism: Strategies for the Global Community in Relation to the Sustainable Development Goals” was held at the UN, where Saima Wazed addressed as a keynote speaker.


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