The Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations, together with the Mission of Bangladesh and the US 'Autism Speaks' Association, held a high-level session on the occasion of the World Autism Awareness Day.
The session, organised in co-operation with Oman, Belarus, India, Italy, South Korea and the US at United Nations headquarters, highlighted practical and effective measures taken by member-states, the United Nations and civil society organisations in dealing with people with autism, in view of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda's objectives can only be achieved by not excluding any member of society, including those with autism and persons with disabilities.
It stressed that the goals of sustainable development should contribute to the strengthening of individuals and families affected by autism or other mental health conditions, and focused on actions and practices related to the eradication of poverty, the provision of health services and welfare, quality education and the elimination of inequality.
The session's participants stressed the importance of providing the conditions for people with autism to be integrated and not to be excluded from education, work and social life.
The session also highlighted the importance of the role of the family and the use of modern technology in the treatment and rehabilitation of people with autism, which affected 70mn people last year.
In a speech, HE the Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani welcomed the participants, and said that Qatar's commitment to the global autism community is not limited to raising awareness about autism, but has over the years been by the establishment of advanced medical care, education and finance.
She pointed out the unique role of Shafallah Centre, which was established in 1999 as a specialised centre for the empowerment and integration of people with disabilities, especially individuals who suffer from autism.
She also pointed to the services provided by the Renad Academy which was opened in 2016 and provides educational services to students identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Sheikha Alya praised Qatar's National Autism Plan 2017, under which the country seeks to make a significant contribution to an effective, coherent and credible cultural approach to the care and education of people with lifelong autism. She added Qatar plans to organise, in co-operation with a group of leading Qatari academic institutions and civil society organisations, an event titled 'How technology can help people with autism based on the experience of the State of Qatar in this field' in June 2019 on the sidelines of the 12th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
She also highlighted the initiative of Her Highness the Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), Sheikha Moza bint Nasser on Autism in 2007, which culminated in the adoption by the UN General Assembly of resolution 62/139 that declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Andrei Dapkiunas presented a review of the steps and actions taken by his country in dealing with people with autism.
The Permanent Representative of Oman ambassador Khalifa bin Ali al-Harthy also reviewed the Sultanate's efforts in caring for people with autism.
The audience heard similar statements from the Deputy Permanent Representative of India, the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Korea, and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations.
Special Adviser of the Permanent Mission of the United States to the UN Margaret Palau-Hemandez reviewed the procedures and practices used by the United States in dealing with people with autism.
The session was attended by the Permanent Delegate of Bangladesh to the United Nations ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Executive Director of Autism Speaks Angela Geiger, and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Co-ordination and Inter-Agency Affairs Maria-Francesca Spatolisano.
The high-level session was also attended by experts from the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), the University of Texas, and from some medical institutions, and listened to Samantha Elisofon on her experience with autism.
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