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11 Feb 2013
New Delhi, India.
Health Minister to ensure increased collaboration between various ministries and departments in data compilation and training practices

The central government will ask the Medical Council of India (MCI) to ensure that the under–graduate and post–graduate medical curriculum includes autism, a development disorder in children, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said.

During a discussion at a conference of the South Asian Autism Network here, Mr. Azad said he would also try to ensure that there is increased collaboration between ministries and different departments of the ministries in compiling data and training practices for professionals.

The Minister said that the health ministry would ask state governments to collect data, compile and analyse it.

Seeking a greater and systematic approach on autism, the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said people should come forward to help children afflicted with such disorders.

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"There are eight million people with autism and other development disorders in India. This calls for a greater and more systematic approach on the issue," Mrs. Gandhi said inaugurating the conference.

She said mothers of children with autism and other development disorders suffer a lot by thinking about the future of their children.

"Life–long afflicted children need life–long support. For this, we should come forward and help them," she said.

Autism is a developmental disorder characterised by communication difficulties, social and behavioural challenges and repetitive behaviours. Diagnosis is difficult due to use of different criteria.

The International Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities, held in July 2011 at Dhaka, was a momentous event in this regard, the Minister said.

The conference adopted a declaration committing itself to include ASD (Autism Spectrum Diseases) in all mainstream policies and programmes that address issues related to early childhood development.

India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Korea, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Timor–Leste were the countries that took part in the conference.

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