Saima Wazed Hossain, chairperson of Bangladesh National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been designated as “WHO Champion for Autism” in South-East Asia.
The WHO Regional Office announced her position on Saturday ahead of the World Autism Day on April 2.
In recognition to her work in advancing the cause of ASD, she was honored by WHO South-East Asia Regional Office with Excellence in Public Health Award in September 2014.
As a result of her efforts, the Neurodevelopmental Disability Protection Trust Act 2013 has been passed. The United Nations adopted several resolutions based on her proposals.
She launched the South-East Asia Autism Network in July 2011 and is a member of WHO’s global Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health.
Not all countries benefiting
Saima called for a multi-sectorial lifespan approach to autism in an article published in Inter Press Service, a global news agency, on Friday.
She urged the developing countries to devise a mechanism to face the challenges of providing further knowledge on effective and sustainable programs and assist in decision making.
She said due to the high cost and copyright laws, many programmes in low-resource countries remain similarly isolated and unshared.
“We urgently need a mechanism by which the challenges and success stories of these individuals can be shared among both disability organisations and governments so to provide further knowledge on effective, sustainable programmes and assist decision making.”
Saima said global awareness and understanding of autism has resulted in increased diagnosis, demand for treatment and development of innovative approaches, many of which remain isolated to research settings or unpublishable in scientific journals.