Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hasina chairs, daughter Saima moderates autism conference in Bhutan

  • Reazul Bashar from Thimphu,
    Published: 2017-04-19 23:19:45 BdST


An international conference on autism has kicked off in Bhutan with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as chair and her daughter Saima Wazed Hossain as moderator of an event.

The prime minister inaugurated the three-day ‘International Conference on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders’ at Royal Entertainment Hall in Thimphu on Wednesday.

Later, at 2pm local time, a ‘high-level’ discussion was held as part of the conference at Royal Banquet Hall.

Saima is hailed internationally for spearheading autism awareness in Bangladesh.

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia region, was the co-chair.

US-licensed school psychologist Saima, who brought the regional leaders together in 2011 is again leading this conference with her non-profit Shuchona Foundation.

Saima is also Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh and a member of WHO’s Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health.

WHO has declared her the ‘Champion for Autism’ in South-East Asia.

Doctors, rights activists, researchers and specialists from around the world took part in the discussion.

Inaugurating the conference, Hasina stressed the need for government efforts to create education systems for children with autism and neurological disorders as they need specific educational intervention.

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay praised Bangladesh for its role in raising awareness about autism globally.

The Ministry of Health of Bhutan and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh have co-organised the conference.

Suchona Foundation, Ability Bhutan Society, and WHO South-East Asia Regional Office are providing technical assistance.

The theme of the conference is “developing effective and sustainable multi-sectorial programmes for individuals, families, and communities living with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders".

Hasina went to Bhutan on a three-day visit on Tuesday. Her sister, Sheikh Rehana's son Radwan Mujib Siddiq, is in her entourage.

The others in her tour party include Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Prime Minister’s International Affairs Advisor Gowher Rizvi. She is scheduled to return on Thursday.