KARACHI -  Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that leading world scientist like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking were not normal. The former had speech problem and the latter is crippled but both turned to be most useful persons in the world.

This he said while addressing the inauguration Ceremony of Multidisciplinary Paediatric Rehab Services Department (MPRSD) of Dow University of Health Sciences at Dow University on Sunday. He was accompanied by Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mendhro, Secretary Health Dr Fazal Pechuho and his Principal Secretary Sohail Rajput.

The chief minister said that the success stories of Einstein and Hawking are enough to learn that the differently-abled (special) children could be made useful for the society with proper coaching, care, treatment and rehabilitation.

“This depends on the society, particularly on their parents how they are rehabilitating their differently-abled children,” he said and added “We can make Einstein and Hawking out them,” he said.

He said that he has declared emergency in health and education sectors and has also empowered concerned ministers and secretaries to take important decisions for delivery of services. “I am not that kind of persons who centralise powers with them but my cabinet members and provincial secretaries have enough powers to run their departments independently,” he said.

He said that he was ready to establish such rehabilitation in all the district headquarter hospitals, particularly the Seattleite of MPRSD of the Dow. “You have the expertise, the spirit to serve the children and experience to run such centres, therefore I am ready to establish such centres just you give me go ahead,” he asked.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that funds were not issue for him but the issue is proper and sagacious usage of funds. “If you come over I am ready to provide you adequate funds for such services of rehabilitation,” he said.

Talking about plight of the area, the chief minister said that he was feeling sorry to see the plight of the area where Down University has established its rehabilitation center. “The roads of the area are dilapidated; piles of domestic filth and garbage are lying here and there. Encroachments have emerged in the area,” he deplored but vowed the area would be rehabilitated by reconstructing the roads, removing encroachments and cleaning the areas. “This is the area where I was born and spent my early life on M.A Jinnah road. I would retore its past glories,” the chief minister said. 

Professor Nabeela Soomro head of the department briefing the chief minister about Multidisciplinary Services for Children with Autism at Institute of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Dow University of Health Sciences, said in Pakistan, approximately 10 percent of our population is facing disabilities and this number is increasing due to different health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, pre-mature births poor antenatal, natal, postnatal care, bomb blasts, earth quakes, traffic accident, violence and congenital abnormalities.

Almost in all the developed countries their hospitals have Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, even our neighboring countries have multiple rehabilitation institutes in their medical universities and tertiary care hospitals catering to the multidisciplinary rehabilitation management of disabled sector of the society.

Dr Soomro said that in Pakistan, work in rehabilitation medicine is nascent. The DUHS has the honour to be the first civilian institute in Pakistan offering multidisciplinary rehabilitation services from 2007. The patients coming for multidisciplinary rehabilitation to the institute are stroke, spinal cord injury, post-polio, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiological disorders, language, swallowing & audiological disorders, autism, myopathies, neuropathies, amputees and other disabilities.

Currently autism is on the rise not only in our country but also globally. It is a neurological developmental disorder characterized by deficits in communication, social interaction and repetitive behavior. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder identified is One in 68 in United States. In Pakistan although statistics of children with autism is not available but the number of cases reported both in public and private sector indicate a rapid increase of this condition in our country.

Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation took the initiative of opening up the first Autism unit that would provide multidisciplinary rehabilitation services to children with autism. The team that works at the autism unit includes physiatrist, neurophysiologist, autism specialist, speech therapist, occupational therapists, special educators, art therapist, computer trainer and sports trainer.

The services that are offered at the autism unit include screening by physiatrist, speech therapy sessions, behavior management session, academic management programs, computer classes, special education, vocational training, art therapy, sensory integration, speech therapy, and parents’ training programs.

These services can be availed by children from all sections of the society due to its Zakat Packages and nominal charges. Currently 150 Children are enrolled but many still wait on the waiting list indicating that more similar units are required.

Those who spoke on the occasion include Vice Chancellor DUHS Dr Saeed Qureshi, Dr Irum Rizwan, Prof Khawar Saeed Jamali and others.

The chief minister visited different rehabilitation wards and met with the children being rehabilitated. He appreciated the work being done at the center. A tableau was also presented by the differently abled children.