DHA holds Down Syndrome awareness campaign
DHA and the UAE Down Syndrome association are working on an app that provides families of children and adults with Down Syndrome easy access to useful information.
United Arab Emirates, Dubai, May 1, 2014: The Dubai Health Authority held today a campaign to raise awareness about Down Syndrome at the Al Barsha primary healthcare centre.
Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition which affects physical and mental development. It is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome.
In the UAE, one out of 319 babies have Down syndrome. The World Health Organisation estimates incidence of Down Syndrome to between 1 in 750 live births worldwide.
The event was inaugurated by His Excellency Engineer Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA. More than 30 families with children and adults with Down syndrome took part in the awareness program.
Al Maidoor said: “Awareness about Down Syndrome and the need to further integrate those with Down Syndrome in society is essential. Such awareness initiatives help people understand Down Syndrome better and provide an active platform for people and parents with children and adults with Down Syndrome to raise their queries.”
Dr Manal Jarour, Specialist registrar at the DHA’s primary healthcare sector and vice-president of the UAE Down Syndrome Association(UAEDSA), seconded this opinion and said: “The aim of the program is to raise awareness about Down Syndrome in society and to educate the community on the importance of actively integrating people with Down Syndrome into society.”
She said through early intervention, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy; infants and children with down syndrome can be prepared to enter mainstream schools. ” The issue with Down Syndrome 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 aim is through early intervention and continuous, integrated and coordinated forms of therapy, we should be able to integrate as many people with Down Syndrome into mainstream schools.
“The aim has to 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 more creative, the idea is for teachers and caregivers to identify their strengths and have the belief that they able 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 the UAE Down’s Syndrome Association (UAEDSA), said: ” Early intervention is key but so is society’s wider acceptance, love and support. This is possible through awareness programs because for people to be able to better support those with Down Syndrome they need to be aware of the condition.”
He said the DHA and the UAE Down Syndrome association are working on an app that provides families of children and adults with Down Syndrome easy access to useful information.
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.
DHA employees were asked to encourage their children to draw a poster representing Down Syndrome and the need for awareness of the disease. A poster competition was held and Al Maidoor presented the winners with prizes.
Mothers of children with Down Syndrome and specialists were also present to address queries.