New Delhi, Feb 11 (IBNS) National Advisory Council chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday said there are 8 million persons with autism and other development disorders in India.
"This calls for greater and more systematic approach on the issue," she said.
Inaugurating the South Asian Autism Network Conference here, Gandhi said: "Mothers of children with autism and other development disorders suffer a lot by thinking about the future of their children. Because life-long afflicted children need life-long support."
"For this reason,we should come forward and help them," she said.
The International Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities held in July 2011 in Dhaka is a momentous event in this regard, she said.
"This conference has helped in focusing the attention of the region and world children with autism and other development disorders. Credit goes to H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh for having organized the event. Credit also goes to Dr. Saima Hossain, at whose instance focused deliberations on this very important area were initiated," Gandhi said.
In his welcome address, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: "In Dhaka Declaration, we endorsed 9 priority actions to realize our vision to meet healthcare needs of children with developmental disorders. Today we are meeting again to take forward this important public health initiative to safeguard against discrimination and social exclusion."
He thanked the Government of Bangladesh for being the true spirit behind this regional co-operation.
He also thanked "Autism Speaks" and "World Health Organization", who have been the technical partners to this regional dialogue.
He hoped that the outcome of the deliberations leading to the Delhi Declaration would be another historical guidepost in the long journey of meeting the unmet needs of children, families and communities suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Prof. Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson, National Advisory Committee on Neuro Developmental Disorder and Autism; Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Women and Child Development and Selja, Minister of State of Social Justice & Empowerment, also addressed the inaugural session.