Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Early intervention is the best way to enable children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) achieve the maximum success in developing skills and abilities that are challenging to them, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for World Autism Awareness Day. The goal of the message was to close the “awareness gap” in nations where knowledge about autism interventions and treatments may be lacking. From a release posted on the UN’s website:
“Now is the time to work for a more inclusive society, highlight the talents of affected people and ensure opportunities for them to realize their potential,” Mr. Ban said in his message on World Autism Awareness Day, which is marked annually on 2 April.
“International attention is essential to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures,” he added.
Autism is characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social interactions and in restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour.
In her video message for the Day, Ban Soon-taek, the Secretary-General’s wife, noted the UN’s commitment to raising awareness about autism.
“Let us continue to work hand-in-hand with affected individuals which strengthens their lives and helps society as a whole,” Mrs. Ban said.
In New York, two panel discussions take place today to celebrate the abilities of people with autism. In addition to scholars and civil society representatives, the panels feature Neal Katz, a teenager with autism featured in the film ‘Autism The Musical’ Fazli Azeem, a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan who is on the autism spectrum; and Idil Azeem from Somalia, who has a child with autism.
UN Headquarters in New York is also hosting a musical performance by Talina and The Miracle Project, which includes performers with autism, as well as a film screening.
Image: Autism awareness ribbon, via Shutterstock
Friday, May 18th, 2012
The number of mothers worldwide who die during pregnancy or childbirth has plunged over the past two decades, a new report released by a consortium of United Nations agencies has found. The New York Times reports:
Maternal deaths fell to about 287,000 in 2010, the report said. The decline is attributable to increases in contraception and in antiretroviral drugs for mothers with AIDS, and to greater numbers of births attended by nurses, doctors or midwives with medical training.
The agencies said the deaths had fallen by 47 percent from the United Nations’ 1990 estimate of 543,000, but the organization has been revising its historical estimates in response to skeptical research by a rival group of epidemiologists at the University of Washington.
Image: African mother, via Shutterstock.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Six postage stamps and two commemorative envelopes featuring designs created by people with autism–including one 7-year-old artist–went on sale yesterday at United Nations headquarters in New York, Geneva, and Vienna as part of a partnership between the UN and Autism Speaks. The UN announced the news on its website:
For the commemorative postage stamps and collectible envelopes, more than 200 pieces of artwork were received for consideration from people with autism across the world. UNPA originally intended to pick fewer designs – however, the artwork received was so good that it decided to feature eight designs.
In his remarks, [UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon] called on the world to denounce the stigmatisation of people with autism and other disabilities.
“We must counter such discrimination at every turn. Our approach must be the precise opposite – mainstreaming by integrating children in regular education settings, and by creating job opportunities that make use of the strengths of people with autism,” he said.
Image via UN Postal Administration
Monday, October 31st, 2011
Around the world, babies born Monday are being noted as symbolically bringing the world human population up to 7 billion people. The United Nations is marking the event with celebrations and festivities around the world, as part of the U.N.’s 7 Billion Actions initiative.
The program is meant to encourage action and communication around issues of population growth, international understanding, and environmental sustainability. “A world of seven billion has implications for sustainability, urbanization, access to health services and youth empowerment – however, it also offers a rare call-to-action opportunity to renew global commitment for a healthy and sustainable world,” the U.N. website says.
The Associated Press reports on the demographics of the 7-billion milestone:
Demographers say it took until 1804 for the world to reach its first billion people, and a century more until it hit 2 billion in 1927. The twentieth century, though, saw things begin to cascade: 3 billion in 1959; 4 billion in 1974; 5 billion in 1987; 6 billion in 1998.
The U.N. estimates the world’s population will reach 8 billion by 2025 and 10 billion by 2083. But the numbers could vary widely, depending on everything from life expectancy to access to birth control to infant mortality rates.
(image via: http://people.howstuffworks.com/)