The federal government has pledged to invest in facilities that will offer supporting services for people living with neurological development disorder.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this pledge in Abuja on Tuesday at a public presentation and launch of a book titled ‘Neuro-developmental Disorders: Enhancing Everyday Life – Non-Existent Therapeutic Services in Nigeria, let’s do something about it’ authored by Austin Amaechi.
The forward of the book was written by the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari.
The president, who was represented by Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, applauded the author for using his book to speak on the challenges parents and persons with Neurological-developmental disorder face in Nigeria.
In his speech, Mr Adewole said the author had used the book to become a spokesperson for millions of Nigerians living with various neuro-developmental conditions especially by using it to portray the challenges faced by them.
The minister said Neuro-developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual and developmental conditions continueto be a significant public health issue in Nigeria and across the world.
Mr Adewole said the subtitle of the book, ‘nonexistence supportive services in Nigeria let’s do something about it’ is very revealing, troubling and informative.
He said this shows that there are still gaps in the evidence based effective diagnostics, treatments as well as epidemiological studies and investigating the prevalence of the condition and the government needs to do something about it.
He said the government is meant to provide the building blocks needed to address the needs of people with various developmental disorders.
“We read and hear frequently of the shortage of diagnosis and therapeutic services, shortage of qualified physicians, high costs and low integration of services especially in rural areas.
“The book has shown that we need a robust and increased treatment intervention and how we can better mobilise to do something about it. There is no doubt that our country Nigeria is still grasping with challenges in many sectors, however I am gladdened by the fact that in spite these glitches, we have resilience and capacity to make significant progress in several areas including the health sector,” he said.
Mr Adewole promised that the government is able and willing to provide the required leadership to tackle the gap and also ensure that diagnostics, therapeutics services, professionals are provided with education and training to address knowledge gaps.
The author of the book, Austin Amaechi, in his speech said he was compelled to write the book after the experiences he had dealing with one of his children who is suffering from the disability.
Mr Amaechi said the book explores the concept of neuro-developmental disabilities, how to understand and treat autism spectrum disorder, and also advises the government, healthcare providers as well as parents and families of sufferers.
He explained that Nigeria has little or no facilities for these challenged children and as such leaves many families no option than to keep the children in hiding without support services.
“The disease is not new, it is just that the awareness of the disease is becoming more pronounced. Neurological disorder is just a non-effective function of the brain and there are over 100 types of the disorder. There is a need to create more awareness to these disabilities and how to handle them.
“The government needs to be ready to play its part in making treatments and training of these individuals easy for parents. With adequate supports from the government and by ensuring that children with this conditions have access to public health, education and support services, they will be able to do well within the society,” he said.