Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday put emphasis on looking for avenues for addressing the causes of neuro disorder victims under an inclusive health development policy.
"As we embark upon implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is important for us to look for avenues that will strengthen our efforts for bringing in an inclusive development for all - in particular for those in vulnerable situations," she said while chairing a high-level discussion on autism and other neuro-developmental disorders (NDD) in the Bhutanese capital.
Sheikh Hasina said persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and NDD are among those in vulnerable condition.
Health ministers of Bangladesh and Bhutan jointly organizes the three-day conference titled "Enabling countries to successfully address autism and other neuro-developmental disorders (NDD) as part of their Sustainable Development Goals" at the Royal Banquet Hall in Thimphu.
Shuchona Foundation, Ability Bhutan Society (ABS), and World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office are extending their technical supports for the conference, being moderated by Chairperson of Bangladesh National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and WHO Champion for Autism in South-East Asia Region Saima Wazed Hossain.
World Health Organisation's (WHO) regional director for South East Asia Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh co-chaired the discussion, addressed, among others, by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's International Affairs Advisor Dr Gowher Rizvi.
The premier said ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder caused by an impairment of the growth and development of the brain or central nervous system.
"Neurodevelopmental disorders have significant impact on the mental, emotional, physical, and economic well-being of the individuals, their family and the community in which they live," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the disorder affects not only the affected person's social, educational, professional life and human rights but also across the broad spectrum of economy and development of the community and country in which he/she lives.
She said paragraph 26 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has documented UN member states' commitment to the prevention and treatment of behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development.
The prime minister said the SDGs provision of a framework for more-integrated action is of considerable importance in this regard. "However, unfortunately, the indicators do not include specific guideline to our work in addressing the ASD and NDD."
"With this backdrop, the high level session today bears significance in our work on ASD. I believe that the sessions' speakers will be able to shed some light and make recommendations on our future work to address ASD and NDD in light of the 2030 SDGs," she added.
Head of the Department of Pediatrics in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital Professor Mimi Lhamu Mynak rapporteured the session where Founder and CEO of 'Global Partners United' Evelyn Cherow made the key note paper presentation.
Sheikh Hasina thanked Professor Cherow for her thoughtful presentation on Early Intervention & ECD for Children and Families and the subsequent speakers.
Professor Cherow's presentation included some very key thoughts like the The Seventh Sense and the use of Technology as a Multiplier of Networks for achieving objectives with regard to ASD and NDDs.
"I believe that the thought provoking ideas of the sessions' speakers will be able to guide and encourage our future endeavors in addressing ASD and NDD in light of the 2030 SDGs," she said.
The theme of the conference is "Developing effective and sustainable multi-sectorial programs for individuals, families and communities living with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Earlier in the morning, the Bangladesh prime minister inaugurated the conference as the guest of honour. Bhutanese Prime Minister Dshao Tshering Tobgay also spoke at the inaugural session of the conference.