Raising awareness on Down Syndrome

National 2 minutes, 56 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Minister of Health yesterday stressed the importance of individuals diagnosed with Down Syndrome receiving adequate healthcare throughout their lives.

Brunei's theme for this year's World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), "Promoting Health, Celebrating Achievements" highlights that leading a healthy life is not only the responsibility of the individual with down syndrome, but also that of everyone else.

"The point of celebrations such as this is to increase awareness among the public from every layer of the community that they also have a role to help and encourage individuals with Down Syndrome in this country," Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof said at the Child Development Centre (CDC) in Kiarong.

The minister said the government constantly carries out health screenings and treatment through the country's hospitals.

For the past 20 years, the Community Paediatrics Unit has registered some 200 individuals with down syndrome, who the minister said, enjoy good and satisfactory lives.

A handbook on the genetic condition, launched yesterday during the WDSD event, noted that children with down syndrome, who are born with an extra chromosome, run a higher risk of contracting "some diseases and sensory problems than other children".

These include heart diseases and abnormalities, bowel abnormalities, digestive problems, hearing and vision problems, thyroid disorders, infections, blood disorders and cervical spine dislocation.

About one out of 1,000 babies are likely to be born with Down Syndrome, and about "half the children born with down syndrome suffer from heart disease, which may be trivial or severe", it was stated.

In light of such risks, the health minister said that it was important for children with Down Syndrome to be given treatment for any health problems they had, the same immunisation vaccination as other children, nutritious diet, practised healthy living, and for them to be raised in not only a safe and health environment, but one that was also conducive to the child's development.

"To the individuals with Down Syndrome present yesterday, Pehin Dato Hj Adanan said: "You are all heroes! Your determination in living day to day, no matter what challenge may come, is very impressive. The celebrations and games this morning are especially to celebrate all of you."

Co-chairperson of the WDSD event in Brunei Dr Hjh Mawarni Hj Abd Hamid said the celebrations this year were not only limited to yesterday.

On April 23, a health promotion day will be held for individuals with Down Syndrome, which includes health screening tests.

A forum on early intervention and education for children with Down Syndrome will be held on April 30, where personnel from the CDC will provide advice to parents during a family day. Representatives from the Ministry of Education's Special Education Unit will also participate in the forum.

The family day will also be a chance for parents to network and enhance mutual support, said a Ministry of Health press release on the WDSD.

"Currently, children with Down Syndrome in Brunei are followed up by the CDC, which provides medical follow-up as well as support and assistance throughout their life stages ranging from a baby group play activity to ongoing support in school," the statement said.

"It is hoped our society will be more inclusive of persons with disabilities and persons with Down Syndrome will be able to participate and achieve the best possible outcome through continous moral support and encouragement from all members of the community."

The Brunei Times