National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorder Chairperson Saima Wazed has said Bangladesh’s existing social support system, strong ICT infrastructure and robust community-based health services helped many families of children with autism cope with the challenges they face.
“During the last seven years, the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh has worked together with various stakeholders, ministries and departments to mitigate the challenges and stigma faced by the persons with autism and other neuro-developmental disorders,” she said on Tuesday.
Saima Wazed, also WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in South-East Asia Region, was addressing a virtual roundtable titled ‘Autism at the Covid-19 Pandemic: How Technology Can Support Equitable Global Response and Recovery’ as a panelist on the occasion of the World Autism Awareness Day, 2021.
Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN), along with the Permanent Missions of Brazil, Kuwait, Poland, Qatar and Korea, UN DESA and Autism Speaks, organized the event on Tuesday, said a press release on Wednesday.
In the roundtable, Saima Wazed shared good practices of Bangladesh in supporting children with autism and their families during the pandemic, including through targeted support measures and use of ICTs.
“The children with autism and their families suffered disproportionately due to disruptions in their education and therapeutic services during the pandemic. However, in Bangladesh, the existing social support system, strong ICT infrastructure and robust community-based health services helped many families cope with the challenges,” she said.
Saima Wazed referred to the social challenges and stigma that the families face in many societies including Bangladesh and highlighted how positive changes have been brought in Bangladesh through sustained awareness raising and information sharing.
The event was co-chaired by Ambassador Rabab Fatima, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the UN along with the Permanent Representative of Qatar.
In her welcome remarks, Ambassador Rabab Fatima thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her leadership and commitment in addressing the challenges of the persons with autism and also commended the endeavors undertaken by the government in this regard.
“In Bangladesh, we have put in place strong legislations and programmes to protect people with disabilities and neuro development disorders. And this includes support and learning centres across the country, and other referral services, including disability inclusive e-services”, she said.
She underscored the need for more investment on research and development of new technologies to support individuals with autism disorder, especially during the pandemic.
“We must bridge the digital divide, so that technologies could be made available and accessible by all regardless of their social or economic status.” Rabab Fatima said.
Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and International Affairs of UNDESA framed the issues at the event.
Along with Saima Wazed, other distinguished panelists from different parts of the world including speakers with autism spoke at the roundtable panel discussion segment.
The virtual event was widely attended by people from all corners of the globe including people with autism.