THIMPHU: It was a unique example of demonstrating leadership by both mother and daughter as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her daughter Saima Wazed Hossain, a strong advocate for autism, were at the helm of a global event at the Bhutanese capital Wednesday.
This rare incident took place here as Sheikh Hasina chaired while Saima Wazed moderated the same function on autism.
The high-level discussion was held on the occasion of the three-day "International Conference on Autism and Nuerodevelopmental Disorders" that began at the Royal Banquet Hall in the Bhutanese capital.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who earlier in the morning inaugurated the conference as the guest of honour, chaired in the afternoon the discussion on "Enabling countries to successfully address autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) as part of their Sustainable Development Goals".
Chairperson of Bangladesh National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and WHO Champion for Autism in South-East Asia Region Saima Wazed Hossain moderated it.
Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO Regional Office for South East Asia, co-chaired the discussion, while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's International Affairs Advisor Dr Gowher Rizvi spoke, among others.
In the inaugural session of the conference, Bhutanese Prime Ministet Dshao Tshering Tobgay thanked Sheikh Hasina for attending the conference despite her busy schedule and acknowledged Bangladesh's leading role in creating awareness about autism worldwide under her leadership.
The Bhutanese premier also praised the instrumental role of Saima Wazed Hossain in building awareness about autism and congratulated her on being designated as 'WHO Champion for Autism' in South-East Asia Region.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh and the Ministry of Health of Bhutan are jointly organizing the three-day conference with the technical support of Shuchona Foundation (previously known as Global Autism), Ability Bhutan Society (ABS), and World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office.
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."
Apart from opening and closing ceremonies, a number of technical sessions will be held in the conference.
Government leaders, policymakers, experts and activists from around the globe will discuss strategic viewpoints to spread awareness about autism in the conference..