NEW YORK: The State of Qatar participated in sponsoring the launch of the joint WHO-UNICEF Global Report on ‘Developmental Delays and Disabilities’, entitled ‘Children with Developmental Delays: From the Margins to the Mainstream’ and the ‘Digital Health for Children with Developmental Disabilities’ initiative project, which was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The State of Qatar was represented at the launch of the report by the Minister of Public Health and Chairperson of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) HE Dr Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari.
In addition to the State of Qatar, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Autism Speaks co-sponsored the launch of the report.
In her speech on this occasion, Dr Al Kuwari stressed the significance of the Global Report and confirmed the commitment of the Government of the State of Qatar to continue working with partners to put youth with developmental disabilities at the forefront of efforts to achieve universal health coverage and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
"Over the past 15 years, public awareness of autism has improved significantly. The efforts of the Government of the State of Qatar were at the forefront of global efforts that resulted in the adoption of the United Nations resolution designating April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 and the subsequent World Health Assembly resolution on comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders in 2014,” she said.
"In 2017, we also launched the Qatar National Autism Plan (2017-2021), which is based on research and proposals from six task forces, technical guidance from the World Health Organization, and contributions from family associations. Under the Qatar National Autism Plan, policymakers, healthcare leaders in the public and private sectors and civil society organizations worked to achieve 44 goals, with a focus on early diagnosis, quality of care, comprehensive health services, and lifelong support continuity. Key to this approach is to strengthen inter-ministerial coordination and document good practices to influence the social engagement of people with autism spectrum disorder."
The Minister of Public Health stressed that the global report on ‘Developmental Delays and Disabilities’ is a very important achievement. It illustrates the need to accelerate efforts to promote change at all levels individual, family and community to build inclusive environments and responsive care systems for children and youth with developmental disabilities. Most importantly, it identifies principles and priority areas of action for policies, services, support and monitoring.
She appreciated the report's focus on strengthening strategies to track progress in achieving health outcomes in countries and globally. This requires improved coverage, routinely collected disaggregated data on health and education outcomes for children with developmental disabilities, along with improved approaches to monitoring quality of care. Her Excellency stressed that achieving improved data is a key pillar to achieve increased accountability for the world's children with developmental disabilities.
Dr Al Kuwari concluded: "It is time to accelerate action and increase investments at all levels to improve health pathways, quality of care for people with developmental disabilities, and inclusive environments in communities, both globally and locally."
The report is a call to action for the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in global and national efforts to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and proposes a number of actions to achieve inclusion and equity in health. The report aims to further prioritize and invest in programmes for children and youth with developmental disabilities in the health and other related sectors, identify key gaps in this area and propose strategies to address those gaps, unite countries leading global advocacy to raise awareness about the issue, and provide a platform to amplify the voices of individuals with experience defending themselves and their families.
UNICEF's ‘Digital Health for Children with Developmental Disabilities’ project proposal also addresses child growth monitoring and explains that throughout the child's early years (0-3) years, there are multiple opportunities to support parents in providing a caring environment to promote child development, identifying children at risk of delay and developmental disabilities, and providing early interventions for children who need more support and intensive follow-up.