Autism is not witchcraft – Minister of Health
The federal government on Thursday expressed concerns over the misconception of autism in Nigeria saying some persons are mischievously associating autism spectrum disorder to witchcraft and other bizarre beliefs.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Abuja ahead of the world autism awareness day, which is to be observed worldwide on 2 April, the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu says the government is worried that individuals are discriminated against even by their own family members while some with severe cases of autism are locked up in cages and fed like animals.
The Minister said that the reason why people discriminate against autism patient is due to lack of awareness.
He said that the lack of awareness about ailment informed the coining of the theme for this year’s autism day celebration. According to him “the theme for this year’s world autism awareness day in Nigeria is Autism- early intervention is key.”
Mr Chukwu said that “this theme reflects the commitment of the government to the provision of quality health care to all Nigerians as necessitated in goal number two of that National strategic health development plan.”
He said as Nigeria dreams to be ranked among the 20 biggest economies in the World, persons with autism must be catered for.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Education, Ruqayyat Rufai said that six zonal autism centres will be established for early detection and treatment of autism as part of the federal government’s effort to address issues of autism.
She also her ministry has been training the regular classroom teachers on “methods and techniques of handling children with autism in an inclusive classroom setting.”
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