Southeast Asian Countries to Increase Autism Awareness

The World Heath Organization’s Southeast Asian Region has adopted a resolution on the evident developmental disorder that generates a range of behavioral abnormalities.  The determination of 11 countries within the WHO will bring about hope for families with children with autism.

Autism is a severely-incapacitating developmental disability that happens in the first three years of life, but if detected early can be handled better than if the disease is diagnosed later on in life.  According to statistics, autism affects one in every 88 births and can be better dealt with, if detected early.  Autism in India is high, but there are very little treatment and rehabilitation facilities available.

The member states were impressed by the determination that they are giving appropriate recognition to Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental disabilities in policies and programs related to early childhood development including awareness and financial and technical resources.

With autism on the rise, The WHO expressed deep concern on the growing cost involved in managing such disabilities in addition to the challenges of stigma, isolation, and discrimination faced by families dealing with autism.

The 11 countries have agreed to support the activities of autism-related networks, including the South Asia Network (SAAN) — a concept that emerged from the Dhaka Declaration on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities, adopted at the end of a conference organized last year by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s daughter, Saima Hossain, to discuss the needs and challenges of the autism community in Bangladesh and South Asia.

Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, United Kingdom and the United States of America, in addition to the 11 countries from Southeast Asia participated in the WHO conference.

Taking up the cause of autistic children, India has now decided to hold the first ‘Annual SAAN Regional Networking Meeting’ in January next year.

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