The World Health Organization (WHO) has convened this last week for the World Health Assembly in Geneva to discuss the 2013-2020 global action plans for non-communicable diseases, mental health, and the prevention of visual impairment. WHO is the committee of the United Nations that is responsible for disseminating evidence-based health practices and policy worldwide.
IN 2011, WHO produced The World Report On Disability portraying many of the barriers associated with various disabilities as socially contingent and thus surmountable with certain social changes. The report lays out systemic disadvantages that deepen the affects of disabilities. This week WHO drew from this report, as well as the presentations of numerous experts and advocates, and responded in regard to the rights of persons with disabilities encouraging better access to primary health-care, broader insurance coverage, empowering the individual with control over his/her health care more than institutions, stronger inclusion of disabled persons in general health care, and sustained support of specialized programs for the disabled.
Saima Hossain Putul, the daughter of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, serves as a chairperson of the advisory committee for the action plan and has embarked on a campaign to implement a separate resolution on autism. Putul explains the significance of WHO’s global action plans, saying, “Families living in poverty have neither hope nor opportunity for accessing services unless and until we incorporate these programmes within our existing government, health, education, and social support systems.”[i] The growing incidence of autism spectrum disorder worldwide has secured a place for the developmental disorder on the docket and in the minds of world health and policy leaders. We have reason to believe that Putul’s resolution will be well received and anticipate autism to be well integrated into this global action plan. WHO’s Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Dr. Shekhar Saxena, spoke at the 2012 ICare4Autism’s International Autism Conference saying that Autism is “quickly becoming a very high public health priority,” as “a number of people all over the world, but much more in resource poor settings, suffering from autism, are at the receiving end of abuse and violations of their human rights.”
The World Health Organization is providing daily notes on the proceedings of the World Health Assembly, which will conclude today—May 28th.
[i] Hasib, Nurul I. “‘Put Autism in Global Action Plans'” Bdnews24.com. N.p., 22 May 2013. Web. 24 May 2013. <http://bdnews24.com/health/2013/05/22/put-autism-in-global-action-plans>.