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Egypt’s Health Ministry Announces New Early Detection Initiative for Autism

January 24, 2024
Image Credit: Egyptian Cabinet/Facebook

Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population announced preparations for a forthcoming initiative aimed at detecting and intervening early in autism spectrum disorders.

The announcement, made by Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar on 21 January, comes in light of directives from President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

The initiative, titled “Detection and Early Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders,” is designed to operate through a survey and early detection mechanism – employing the globally used M-Chat scoring system during routine vaccinations for children at 18 months.

The process is repeated for 24 months, either through the ministry’s National Mental Health online platform or its primary care centres.

There will also be an additional service from the National Mental Health Platform that enables remote assessment of children aged 6 months to 2 and a half years.

Autism treatment centres are set to be established in collaboration with the private health sector. These centres will be electronically and technologically equipped to serve as specialised schools – catering to the needs of affected children and facilitating their integration into society.

Over 102 medical teams have been provided with training on the matter, including doctors, nurses, and supervisors – particularly in the governorates of Fayoum, Qalyubia, and Menoufia.

Abdel Ghaffar is looking to integrate other relevant authorities into the initiative, beginning with Egypt’s Ministry of Education to train teachers in dealing with suspected autism cases.

A comprehensive media campaign is also slated to launch nationwide, targeting densely populated places, including clubs, youth centres, commercial markets, and train stations.

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