To commemorate World Down Syndrome Day, (WDSD), 2024, Al Maha Specialised Paediatric Care Centre, Al Wakra Hospital at Hamad Medical Corporation ( HMC) raised awareness among the public to connect with individuals affected by Down Syndrome to promote their optimal quality of life and protect their rights.

WDSD, marked on March, 21 is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.The date for WDSD being the 21st day of March, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

On WDSD 2024, educational and awareness leaflets, posters, and roll-ups about Down syndrome were on display in the awareness booths at the lobby of Al Maha Specialised Paediatric Care Centre and the child development centre to raise awareness of the condition among hospital visitors.

Dr Ammar Abou Shaheen, deputy head of the Child Development Services, explains that the theme for this year’s WDSD is “End the Stereotypes” aiming to advocate for the rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome. Dr Shaheen said : “This year’s theme signals the importance of understanding that individuals affected with Down Syndrome have rights like all people, that are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect, and independence. Each person with Down syndrome is different. They don’t all act the same way or like the same things. Each has an individual identity, interests, likes and dislikes, gifts and talents, just like everyone else.”

“For World Down Syndrome Day 2024, we call for people to ‘End the Stereotypes’. A stereotype is a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like. They are often inaccurate, or simply wrong. Stereotypes can stop us from treating individuals with Down Syndrome like other people,” Dr Shaheen noted.

He emphasised that advocacy can change the way that people think, work, and behave. “By taking action together, we can ensure that the rights of individuals having Down syndrome are protected, warranting their inclusion, participation and integration into the community and society as a whole.”

Dr Shaheen explained further that HMC provides children with Down Syndrome with a variety of programs and services, including developmental screening and evaluations and early intervention programme at the Al Maha Specialised Paediatric Care Centre and the Child Development Centre.

According to him, now the centre provides services to around 122 children with Down Syndrome who receive therapeutic Interventions and family training programs conducted by highly qualified multi-disciplinary teams of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, special education experts and pediatric psychology specialists.
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