New Delhi, Jul 6 A globally renowned champion for the cause of autism spectrum disorder has been appointed as the WHO's goodwill ambassador for autism in the world body's south-east Asia region.
Saima Wazed Hossain's appointment is for a period of two years, the WHO-SEARO today announced.
"Hossain's passionate and persistent efforts for addressing autism are commendable. She has been making significant contributions towards creating awareness and generating action to address and elevate sufferings of people affected by autism," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia.
In the last one year, championing for the cause of autism for WHO, Hossain facilitated the 'Thimphu Declaration' on autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders at an international conference in Bhutan in April 2017.
"The declaration calls for a whole-of–society and whole- of-government approach, with a focus on strengthening national capacities in health, education and social care sectors to provide effective services and support to people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders," the WHO South-East Asia office said in a statement.
As WHO Goodwill Ambassador, Hossain will be promoting the Thimphu declaration which also emphasises on integrating the needs of autism affected people, into national health and socioeconomic development plans, Singh said.
Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders are life- long disabilities that affect brain functioning, and when left without proper support can cause significant impairment in exercising of an individual’s human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Globally, autism prevalence rates are estimated to be 160 cases in a population of 10 000. In low-and middle-income countries, children with autism do not get the medical attention and care they need. Their life is a struggle, marred by stigma and discrimination.
Hossai was designated as WHO Regional Champion for Autism in May 2016, the statement said.