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Govt Urged not to neglect persons with autism during COVID-19

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – The Government should ensure healthcare services for persons with autism remain accessible, even as focus continues to remain on the fight against COVID-19.  

This is according to Iram Bahawal, the spokesperson of Enable Me Kenya, an organization that focuses on bettering the lives of persons with disabilities, including those with autism.

Bahawal said that already, persons with autism have long faced many inequalities, which have only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Other key challenges that the spokesperson urged the government to address include lack of equal distribution of wealth and income and inclusion in politics. 

“Even though the country is in the middle of a pandemic, we would like to urge the government to ensure that quality healthcare for persons with autism remains accessible. Official data shows that healthcare services have been adversely affected by the pandemic, but we know that it is still possible to care for those with autism as they are equal members of the Kenyan society,” she Friday as the world marked Autism Day. The day is marked on April 2.

This year’s theme was ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World’. 

A finding by the United Nations last year found that persons with disabilities are at a greater risk of discrimination in accessing healthcare and life-saving procedures during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The UN revealed that in some countries, health care rationing decisions, including triage protocols (e.g. intensive care beds, ventilators), are not being based on an individual prognosis, but on discriminatory criteria, such as age or assumptions about the quality or value of life based on the disability.

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Data by the Autism Society of Kenya estimates that autism could be up to 4 percent or one child with autism, for every 25 children.

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