Sonia Gandhi to inaugurate South Asian Autism Network conference in New Delhi

New Delhi, Feb 8 (ANI): Congress President Sonia Gandhi will inaugurate the South Asian Autism Network (SAAN) conference here on Monday.

Representatives from India, Bangladesh, Thailand and WHO, SEARO will participate in the daylong conference.

During the conference, representatives from India and Bangladesh will present the official SAAN charter for adoption by all network member States.

The charter notes the commitment to the following goals: To raise public and professional awareness of ASD; to provide resources for parents and professionals; to collect public health data to understand the burden of ASD; to conduct professional training in the areas of evidence based services to meet the life cycle needs of persons with ASD.

It will also encourage in ASD, promote inter-country sharing of data resources and expertise and to explore funding mechanisms to achieve the above goals and objectives.

It may be mentioned that Autism is a developmental disorder, which is characterized by communication difficulties, social, behavioral challenges as well as repetitive behaviours. The diagnosis of autism is difficult due to the use of different diagnostic criteria.

The WHO perspective about health, especially mental health, shows an escalation in the disease burden for autism from 10 percent to 14 percent over the period 1990 to 2011. It is expected to rise to 15 percent by 2020.

After the adoption of Dhaka Declaration on 25 July 2011, the South Asian Autism Network (SAAN) was born to combat the devastating autism public health crises. The intention is to identify common challenges each country is facing and form a partnership to develop solutions in a collaborating and coordinated fashion.

The intensions include establishing a regional autism awareness campaign in South East Asia, creating joint programmes for information-sharing and professional training, and defining national and regional strategies to advance autism public health research and policy development. (ANI)