DHA chief calls for the need to integrate them into mainstream
Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) held a campaign to raise awareness about Down Syndrome at the Al Barsha primary health care centre last week.
Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition, which affects physical and mental development. It is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome.
The event was inaugurated by Eisa Al Maidour, Director-General of the DHA. More than 30 families with children and adults with Down Syndrome took part in the programme.
In the UAE, one out of 319 babies have Down Syndrome. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the incidence of Down Syndrome to between 1 in 750 live births worldwide.
“These awareness initiatives help people understand Down Syndrome better and provide an active platform for people dealing with Down Syndrome to raise their queries.”
Dr Manal Jarour, specialist registrar at the DHA’s primary health care sector and vice-president of the UAE Down Syndrome Association (UAEDSA), said that through early intervention, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy; children with Down Syndrome can be prepared to enter mainstream schools.
“The issue is that often people look at the physical characteristics of people with Down Syndrome but in fact many of them have an IQ of 70. So the idea is through early intervention and continuous, integrated and coordinated forms of therapy, we should be able to integrate as many people as with Down Syndrome into mainstream.
“The focus must be to nurture their skills in a manner that they are capable of getting a job in adulthood. Some of them are more academically inclined while some of them are creative. The responsibility is for the teachers and caregivers to identify their strengths and have the belief that they are capable of getting jobs and carrying on with their daily life to the best extent possible.”
Dr Zuhair Mohmandar, Specialist neonatologist and health counsellor at UAEDSA, said: “ Early intervention is key but so is society’s wider acceptance, love and support. This is possible through awareness programmes as people who care those with Down Syndrome need to be aware of the real conditions.”
The DHA held a variety of activities throughout the day at the Al Barsha Health centre including face painting, drawing etc for children with Down Syndrome. Al Maidoor presented them with prizes, trophies and certificates.
(Those interested to volunteer can call UAE Down Syndrome Association at 04-3444471 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org)