Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen reiterated Bangladesh's commitment to ensure maximum use of the talents of People with Autism and their full participation in society.
"We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that over 75 million autistic people in the world can make the most of their talents and participate fully in our societies," he said at the United Nations (UN) in New York on Thursday, according to a message received here today. He was delivering his opening remarks at a virtual event on World Autism Awareness Day-2022 organised by the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh and the State of Qatar to the UN in collaboration with the World Health Organization and Autism Speaks. Dr. Momen shared good practices from Bangladesh in supporting children with autism and their families during the pandemic, including through targeted support measures and use of ICTs. During Covid-19, he said, the children with autism and their families suffered disproportionately due to disruptions in their education and therapeutic services. However, he said, the existing social support system, strong ICT infrastructure and robust community-based health services in Bangladesh helped many families to cope up with the challenges.
Referring to the increased awareness on autism in Bangladesh, the foreign minister said, various stakeholders, ministries and departments have worked together to mitigate the challenges and stigma faced by persons with autism. Various initiatives undertaken by the current government such as 'Rights and Protection of Persons with Disabilities Act 2013' and 'Neuro-development Trust Act 2013', he mentioned. "Our government has been promoting a 'culture of innovation' to take advantage of the assistive tools and technologies. 'Digital Bangladesh' initiative has opened a new era in extending disability inclusive e-service, webs and other ICT-based services", he continued. Dr. Momen further mentioned about the guidance of directives given by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for mainstreaming all children with special needs in Bangladesh to explore their hidden talents. He also acknowledged with appreciation the extraordinary role played by Saima Wazed, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neuro- developmental Disorder, Bangladesh and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in South-East Asia Region, to raise awareness on autism in Bangladesh and South Asia. He hoped that society can change to allow autistic people to live their best life and use of inclusive digital technology could be a starting point towards that end. Along with Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, Qatar's Social Development and Family minister Mariam bint Ali bin Nasser Al-Misnad, Under-Secretary-General for Global communications at the UN Melissa Fleming and Director of WHO Office in New York Werner Obermeyer also spoke in the opening segment. Distinguished panelists from different parts of the world including parents of persons with autism spoke at the Panel Discussion segment.