Majaliwa: Stop stigmatisation

DAR ES SALAAM: PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has urged Tanzanians to stop stigma against children and people living with autism, mental disorders and intellectual impairment.

He also urged parents and guardians with children with mental challenges to seek advice from health experts so that their children can benefit from the services available at a young age.

“Our experts should continue to increase efforts in educating the community about these diseases so that more people can benefit from the services,” Prime Minister Majaliwa said after participating in the Run 4 Autism Tanzania charity run, held at Green Ground, Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Mr Majaliwa instructed the Ministry of Health to increase diagnostic service centres, especially early diagnosis of Autism and other problems that can be detected when children go to the clinic every month.

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“The Ministry of Health and President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments(PORALG) must ensure the presence of integrated services that can bring productivity to mothers and children who are born with diseases that can be detected at an early stage,” he said.

He also directed the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to continue increasing the speed of expansion of the provision of integrated education services as well as increasing the scope of training and classrooms in various schools so that children with disabilities do not have to walk long distances to school.

He also directed the media, artists and members of the community in general to use every opportunity at their disposal to educate the community about various health issues.

“Journalists, use your pens to educate the community about health and the control of various diseases, including mental diseases,” he said.

The Minister for Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said her docket in collaboration with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) has established the first degree in Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and the first degree in Clinical Psychology which are starting this year.

“The establishment of these degrees aims to ensure that the rehabilitation services are given high priority by the government,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lukiza Autism Foundation, Ms Hilda Nkabe, who is also the organiser of the marathon, said that the goal of marathon is to raise 50m/- for the implementation of a five-year strategy from 2024 to 2028 that aimed at promoting the well-being of every child with autism indicators.

“This strategy is to strengthen the government’s plans through the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health by improving the ability of nursery teachers to identify signs of Autism in children,” she said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Autism affects one child out of every 160 children in the world.

In September last year, government pledged to continue supporting the private sector in all efforts aimed at strengthening the welfare of Tanzanian children. Mr Majaliwa made that remark after taking part in a charity run organised by Maendeleo Bank in Dar es Salaam as part of activities to mark the bank’s 10th anniversary.

He said that the government has been taking various steps to ensure the welfare of children and ensure access to education for children with special needs.

The Premier said the society should take part in protecting children, especially those who are physically challenged by reporting violent acts done against them.

He said the government has ensured that all district hospitals provide services to newborns and services for premature babies.

“This is a special service for caring for premature babies and under weight infants,” Majaliwa said.

“The government is implementing the provision of services to children with autism so that they can be able to speak (speech therapy) and occupational therapy,” he said.


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