By Beatrice Ligomeka MANA

As Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Autism Month in April, mental health experts have described the lack of awareness and equipment for diagnosing autism as a major setback for those affected by the condition.

Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Child and Adult mental health expert, Precious Makiyi said the lack of awareness renders patients to stigma and lack of care .

“Children who come from poor families rarely get access to specialists who can help them. Besides that, they experience stigma from people who misunderstand the condition,” said Makiyi.

Makiyi then said an establishment of policies in the Ministry of Health to ensure hospitals have adequate health care workers to attend to autism patients would be essential in raising awareness about the condition.

Commenting on the matter, Chairperson for Autism Hope Malawi, Chikondi Nsusa concurred with Makiyi, saying raising awareness on autism would help parents to trace their children’s behavioral patterns so as to be on the look-out for signs of the condition.

“Most children that are autistic portray troublesome behaviors and parents are hardly aware that it is a condition. This results into a child being ill-treated. Besides that, doctors and rehabilitation centers for autism patients are not adequate,” Nsusa said.

She then called upon the general public to refrain from ill-treating autistic patients and rather respect the policies that are already in place with their regard.

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