Autism in Africa: Life Saving Awareness

 

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The December 6th session focused on improving the lives of people with autism, advocating policies to prevent social exclusion, and raising awareness. The panelists broadly discussed the importance of improving data, transparency, and accessible resources for community development regarding autism. H.E.s, The Ambassadors of Zambia, Uganda, and Malawi acknowledged the realities of children with autism, whose warning signs often go unnoticed. Parents of speech-disabled children, including H.E.Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota, the Ambassador of Zambia, are often unable to find support in the form of specialized schooling in their communities. H.E. Dr. Kasese-Bota stressed the need to connect the realities of autism with the objectives in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4. In Uganda, people with autism are not recognized as living with a disability. Their families cannot often afford expensive support resources when they are available. Uganda has several modest facilities for children with autism, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. In Malawi, treatments can be unhelpful and even detrimental. However, Malawi’s First Lady, Gertrude Maseko, is a dedicated advocate of autism awareness and access to helpful and non-harmful care.

H.E. David Roet, the Ambassador of Israel confirmed the country’s commitment to African nations and called upon the global community to unite to prevent discrimination, to make effective policies, and to help create a social and economic environment of inclusion. He stressed the need for more specialized medical staff, screening facilities, and schools specialized in care for students with autism. The Missions of Kenya, Poland, Angola and Nigeria focused on enhancing awareness in professional realms including research, collaboration, and efficient and cost-effective delivery of early diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Alan Kadish explained autism and potential contributing factors. He defined the condition as a disability in social awareness and interaction, not intelligence. He discussed United States’ treatment and schooling opportunities for children with autism. One mother described the special Israeli military roles offered to citizens with autism. Dr. Joel Wallach discussed studies of autism in children and the association of environmental change with worsening conditions for the child.

Meeting: “Autism in Africa: Life Saving Awareness Implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Angola, Israel, Japan, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia)

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, 6 December 2016; 10:00 to 13:00; UN Headquarters, Conference Room 4

Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador Dr. Richard Nduhurra of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador Necton Mhura of the Permanent Mission of Malawi to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador David Roet of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations; Counselor Fidel Casimiro on behalf of H.E. Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of the Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations; Margareta Kassangana-Jakubowska Minister-Counsellor Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations; Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations; Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations; Dr. Alan Kadish of Touro College; Dr. Joel Wallach, Marylice Fegeley of Parent to Parent of New York State

Written By: Renée S. Landzberg, WIT Representative

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