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).”
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.