Sri Lanka joins South Asian Autism Network (SAAN)
Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena attended the Conference of the First South Asian Autism Network in New Delhi on 11th February 2013 which adopted the Delhi Declaration of the South Asian Autism Network for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi was the Chief Guest at the Conference which was organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India and attended by several South and South East Asian nations, at the level of Ministers of Health. Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad chaired the Conference which was attended as well by the Social Justice Empowerment Minister Kumari Selja and several other experts including senior WHO officials.
During the Conference Minister Maithripala Sirisena held a bilateral meeting with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and discussed matters of mutual interest for both countries. Minister Sirisena also met Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the margins of the Conference. High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam was associated with the Conference and meetings of Minister Sirisena.
The Delhi Declaration stated;
"We, the members of South Asian Autism Network (SAAN), having come together at New Delhi, do hereby solemnly consider the following.
Reiterating the commitment of nations to the concept of all human beings being born free and equal in rights and dignity as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2007; the Declaration of 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day by the United Nations General Assembly 2007; and the Dhaka Declaration on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities of July 2011;
Committing to safeguard all citizens from discrimination and social exclusion, and ensuring their inclusion in all spheres of life,
Noting with concern the increasing prevalence of autism and related disorders, and the absence of population based mechanisms for early detection and accessible interventions,
Remembering that early intervention can significantly improve the outcome, and that a model for community-based early detection, intervention and care for Autism can become a model for other developmental disabilities,
Concerned that despite increasing scientific evidence of the effectiveness of early interventions in improving the functional outcomes and long-term implications of children with Autism, such children and families in need do not have access to services that are appropriate and affordable thereby increasing human and material costs, to families, communities and nations,
Considering the stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion that such children and their families face on a daily basis,
We do hereby undertake:
1. To commit ourselves to including ASD in all mainstream policies and programmes that address issues related to early childhood development in all spheres of community life;
2. To develop early detection and surveillance services at every level
3. To evaluate and implement cost effective and efficacious programmes that address life cycle needs of person with ASD
4. To undertake collaborative research among member countries on all aspects of autism
5. To strive to improve Awareness, develop collaborative networks for Advocacy and Legislation/Policy changes if required, on ASD which will also provide a platform for the voices of persons with ASD and their families
6. To implement the Dhaka Declaration on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities of 2011, in both letter and spirit
We hereby solemnly pledge to carry out in partnership and collaboration, all activities related to improving the situation of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
- Asian Tribune -