KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah inaugurated the first-ever Centre of Autism Rehabilitation and Training (C-ART) at Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, the CM expressed the view that autism or disability was not a disease, but rather a problem which the parents and society had to understand and handle with love and care. He said that people should be provided with the much needed medical care. “It is our responsibility to support our children who are differently-abled,” he added.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and non-verbal communication as well as by unique strengths and differences.
Shah said that there were over 60 million people suffering from autism across the world, many of whom, living in developing countries, were deprived of access to public services. “The situation is definitely alarming,” he said. In a country like Pakistan, where reasonable education remains a dream even for the average person, affording rehabilitation services for an autistic child remains something like a big challenge, he added.
He said that while establishing institutions was difficult, the biggest problem one faced was finding dedicated professionals to run them in the interest of the public. “Today we have established C-ART and managed to find dedicated persons, like Dr Nabila Soomro and others, to make this institution one of the best in South Asia,” he ramarked, adding that it was the biggest C-ART institution in the public sector in South Asia.
The government had allocated Rs71.7 million in the fiscal year 2016-17 to establish C- ART, a three-story building with 38 room rooms spanning an area of three acres, with the capacity to enroll 300 children. The autism centre is complete and ready to facilitate children and their families.
The CM shared that he had come to realise that there were more people employed in administration than trainers or experts. “We have to increase the strength of trainers and teaching staff to make it a professional institution,” he said, adding that he was ready to provide all the funds needed to run C-ART efficiently. However, he said, “I want to see the actual results and genuine rehabilitation.”
The CM urged C-ART’s administration to establish satellite centres in others parts of the province. “There is a dire need of such rehabilitation and training centres all over Sindh,” he said, adding that the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases had around eight satellite centres in different districts of the province.
He expressed the hope that C-ART would cater to the needs of the children whose parents could not afford the charges of private institutions. “We are also improving our schools working for special children,” he added.
Earlier, the CM unveiled the plaque to inaugurate the newly constructed centre. Planning and Development (P&D) Department Chairperson Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Secretary Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Abbas Baloch, Professor Dr Nabila Soomro and others were present on the occasion.
Later talking to the media, Shah said, “The government does not object to the construction of Bhasha Dam, but issues regarding water storage need to be resolved first.”
He said that the widely criticised increase in street crime in Karachi occurred in the tenure of the caretaker government and that his government was actively trying to curb it. He said that soon the inspector-general (IG) of police will join and a collaborative strategy to eliminate street crime will be formulated to restore and sustain law and order in the city.
He said that the National Action Plan (NAP) was in progress and the targeted operation launched in Karachi had produced good results. “We are going to divert it towards the street criminals, drug mafia and land grabbers,” he said.
CM said that for the past many years, Benazir Bhutto Housing Cell was providing houses to the poor.