As World Autism Awareness Day – designated by the United Nations as Tuesday, April 2 – winds down, the spotlight is on why the disorder is on the increase, why the causes still elude researchers, and why early diagnosis is so important.
“We know autism is on the rise and we know there is a genetic predisposition,” says Dr. Cathy Pratt, board chairperson for the Autism Society of America (www.autism-society.org). “The controversy is over what is the trigger that actually causes it to occur. A lot of research is on what triggers it. I think that we will find that there are multiple causes. It’s not like a broken arm.”
On Huffington Post, Peter Brown, a friend of Yoko Ono, writes:
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was passed unanimously by the UN General Assembly in 2008. Along with AIDS and diabetes, autism is one of only three health issues to be so observed by the UN. In addition to promoting worldwide knowledge of the autism epidemic and the importance of early intervention, WAAD celebrates the unique creative talents and skills of people with autism, and features community events around the world where individuals with autism are celebrated.
Please go online to bid on a unique “puzzle piece of art”, signed by Yoko, at www.worldautismawarenessday.org. Bids start at $1,000. All proceeds go to Autism Speaks, the world’s largest advocacy organization for autism awareness and research. With each winning bid is the promise that when the cure for autism is finally found, all pieces will be reassembled to mark the last World Autism Awareness Day.
I somehow missed UNICEF’s big publicity stunt from over the weekend:
UNICEF has arranged a world record breaking queue for the toilet to raise awareness of World Water Day and the need for clean water across the globe.
The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that 756 people queued up for the commode in the Belgian capital of Brussels.
I think anyone who’s been to a crowded outdoor event might feel like a line queue of 756 people is nothing. But for many in the developing world, access to clean water, or to decent facilities, is not even available, queue or no queue.
As for these patient folks, after all that waiting, they didn’t even get to use the toilet — it was a fake.
Every year, nine million people get sick from tuberculosis. 5000 will die from TB today alone. And, almost unbelievably, two billion human beings around the world are infected with the bacteria that causes TB.
A UN-produced video on Fistula in Afghanistan. Apparently, there is only one facility in the whole country where obstetric fistula is surgically treated.
UPDATE: A reader corrects me: “Actually, the video reports that, in addition to the special unit in Kabul, surgery for fistula has also been performed at the provincial hospital in Badakhshan, in northeast Afghanistan (among other hospitals).”
Iraq: The SG met with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki in Baghdad today as well as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to review the ongoing security crisis. The SG congratulated Fouad Massoum on his election as Iraq’s new President and remarked that a new government “will strengthen the unity of the country, fight effectively against terrorism and ISIS, as well as uproot the seeds of sectarianism and division.”
SG: The SG met with Israeli President Peres in Jerusalem today to encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Speaking to the press with President Peres, he again underlined the need to stop violence and begin dialogue that addresses the root causes of the conflict.
SG: The SG briefed the SC today from Ramallah where he reiterated his message from today’s earlier press conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to: “Stop fighting. Start talking. And take on the root causes of the conflict.” The SG will continue travelling this week to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
SG: The SG arrived in Cairo today where he will meet with the Foreign Minister, President el-Sisi and US Secretary of State Kerry to promote the Egypt-initiated ceasefire in the Middle East. Spokesman Dujarric told reporters today that “the overriding messages that [the SG] brings is, first, that the violence must stop, and needs to stop now.”
Middle East: The SG welcomed the humanitarian pause negotiated by Special Coordinator Serry to allow civilians in Gaza to begin repairs on electrical and water infrastructure. WFP used the five-hour pause to deliver emergency food assistance to Gaza. The SG hopes the pause will lead to peace and a sustainable ceasefire.