WHO says Putul pushed Bangladesh to take lead in global autism campaign

The WHO Regional Director has recognised Saima Wazed Hossain’s work, saying she is the “driving force” behind Bangladesh’s leadership in advancing the cause of autism across the world.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 10 Sept 2014, 11:06 AM
Updated : 10 Sept 2014, 11:42 AM

Poonam Khetrapal Singh said this in a statement while announcing the award she would confer to her on Wednesday.

Saima Wazed, better known by her nickname Putul, is the daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The WHO regional director will hand over the award for her contribution to public health at a reception in Dhaka, on the sidelines of the WHO regional meeting.

She is among the first two recipients of the newly instituted Award for Excellence in Public Health.

The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of Timor-Leste is the other recipient of the award in institutional category.

Putul spearheads autism campaign in Bangladesh as the Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Neuro-developmental Disorders and Autism in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

A US-licensed school psychologist, Putul is the architect of South Asia Autism Network that brought the regional countries together to address the growing challenge of this disorder.

It was at her initiative that Bangladesh hosted the first-ever global conference on autism in 2011, drawing leaders like India’s Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi.

She later also moved a proposal on autism in the WHO on behalf of Bangladesh.

The proposal was accepted this year by the World Health Assembly.

The WHO Director General Margaret Chan, considering her “technical ability, experience, global representation in terms of diversity of knowledge, and approaches in the relevant field” took her as an expert on her advisory panel on mental health.

Regional director Singh described her “as the driving force behind Bangladesh’s leadership in advancing the cause of autism in the Region and worldwide”.

“Ms Hossain’s (Putul) work has helped to build multidisciplinary/multi-stakeholder partnerships for ASDs and childhood development disorders which resulted in the adoption of resolutions at the United Nations and the World Health Organization”, she acknowledged.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste are the members of the WHO South-East Asia region.

Health Minister Mohammed Nasim earlier announced that Putul would be awarded the WHO Excellence Award by the regional director.