Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh and renowned school psychologist Saima Wazed Hossain has been invited to attend the opening session of the UN to observe the World Autism Awareness Day on April 1.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Under Secretary General for Communication and Public Information Cristina Gallach, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft, representatives of the UN member countries and various international organizations will attend the inaugural session, according to a release from Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York.
The daughter of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and member of WHO's Advisory Panel on Mental Health, Saima Wazed Hossain will be a panelist at one of the five issues titled "Reduce Inequality (Goal 10 of SDGs)", to be discussed during the morning session.
The other four issues are Inclusive Education; Follow-up to Secretary General's 2015 call to Action (Goal 8 of SDGs), Accessible Communities (Goal 11) and Partnerships for Change (Goal 17).
The main aim of the event is to define the most effective practices and measures to be taken to empower individuals and families affected by autism and other developmental disorders to achieve the SDGs goals meaningfully.
In the afternoon on April 1, a High Level Event on "Addressing Autism: Strategies for the Global Community in Relation to the Sustainable Development Goals" will be held at the UN. Saima Wazed Hossain will address the event as Keynote Speaker.
Mrs. Ban Ki-moon and representatives of various international organizations will be present at the High Level Event.
Jointly co-sponsored by Bangladesh, India, Qatar, South Korea and the United States Missions and Autism Speaks, a New York-based Autism Advocacy Organization, the high level event will focus on the ways and means to mainstreaming autistic persons across the world to ensure inclusive implementation of the SDGs.
The possible ways to ensure equitable education, health and wellness of autistic persons will get emphasis in the 3-hour brainstorming session.
Saima Wazed Hossain has been invited at the UN programs in observance of the World Autism Awareness Day every year since 2012 as an international autism expert. She has won acclaim for her commitment to create autism awareness globally.
Saima Wazed Hossain received WHO Excellence Award in 2014 for her work on autism at national, regional and global level to ensure that there should be a national policy and commitment to those with autism and to put autism on the UN agency's map.
In Bangladesh, She started a countrywide autism awareness campaign in 2010 which includes early detection of autism and extends services to the autistic children and their families.
US Autism Society statistics say, about 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder and in the US, it is estimated at 1 in 68 births.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since her assumption of office in 2009 has been emphasizing on mainstreaming the physically and mentally challenged population including autistic for ensuring inclusive socio-economic growth of the country.
To this end, the Government has been implementing a five-year program to building autism awareness, social inclusiveness, education and training for them, and research.
The government has passed the Protection of the Rights of the persons with Disabilities Act in 2013. A trust fund has been formed to help the persons with Neuro-disability.
The National Advisory Committee on Autism has been overseeing the proper implementation of the Government programs and initiatives.
Saima Wazed Hossain is also the architect of South Asian Autism Network that brought the regional countries together to address the growing challenge of autism. Due to her initiatives, Bangladesh hosted the first-ever international conference on autism in Dhaka in 2011.