Saima Wazed Hossain has been awarded by a New York-based School and Center for Children with Autism for her innovative and relentless works for the well being of people with autism.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's daughter Saima has been spearheading autism campaign in Bangladesh and is seen as an inspirational figure at the international level.
Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh's permanent representative to the UN, received the award from Shema Kolainu and its international affiliate ICare4Autism on behalf of Saima on Tuesday, the permanent mission said in a statement.
Saima is a member of WHO's Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health and heads Bangladesh's National Advisory Committee on Autism.
Ambassador Masud noted that under Prime Minister Hasina, Bangladesh had achieved remarkable success in ensuring the rights and well-being of persons affected by autism and other neuro-developmental disorders.
WHO has declared Saima a “globally renowned champion for the cause of autism spectrum disorder”. In June, WHO South-East Asia Region appointed her as ‘goodwill ambassador for autism’ in the region of 11 countries.
She facilitated the ‘Thimphu Declaration’ on autism and other neuro-developmental disorders at an international conference in Bhutan in April.
The WHO South-East Asia Regional Office honoured her with the Excellence in Public Health Award in September 2014. Her efforts in adopting Dhaka Declaration and formation of the South Asian Autism Network brought autism to the forefront in this region and beyond.
Globally, autism affects about 160 persons in 10,000 people. Children with autism in low-and middle-income countries often do not get the medical attention and care they need.
Ambassador Masud said mass awareness, backed by strong political will, can make a difference in the lives of those with autism and other challenges.
He read out a message from Saima at the ceremony in which she thanked Shema Kolainu, the first school and center for children in Autism in New York established in 1998.
Autism transcends all religious, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries, she said.
“I am working towards creating such well-planned comprehensive training for both care givers and other professionals in Bangladesh and the slushy East Asia region,” Saima added.