This guest blog post is by Alex Camacho Vásconez, Technical Secretary of Disabilities for the Office of the Vice President of Ecuador.
Ecuador is a world leader in the field of disabilities, and as a country wehave tried to assure the rights of persons with disabilities at all levels. Ecuador hosted the World Meeting of Disabilities of 2013 and the Regional Consultation of the Americas for the WHO Disability Action Plan 2014-2021, efforts that have been translated into more than 260,670 beneficiaries under programs of labor inclusion, housing, early detection, delivery of technical devices and the establishment of a proper legal framework.
However, despite the hard work that the Government of the Republic of Ecuador has developed in order to strengthen the fulfillment of the rights of persons with disabilities, there exist a lot of conditions and topics that have yet to be improved. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has become one of our biggest concerns. As a result, the construction of a correct approach based on proper attention and effective methods of response has become one of our strategic axes for our plan of comprehensive attention on disabilities for the coming years.
The establishment of concrete action has taken place with the development of initiatives such as the international workshop: "Autism Spectrum Approach in Ecuador, Actions from an Integrated Vision,” aimed to prepare a national plan for a comprehensive approach in ASD. Those actions were laid out last month at a conference held by the Technical Secretariat of Disabilities of the Vice-presidency of Ecuador in collaboration with expert international institutions such as Autism Speaks.
The meeting gathered representatives from civil society, academia, national and international experts and public actors. In this scenario, state holders agreed that public policies need to be created in order to foster the total inclusion of persons with different strengths and abilities across the autism spectrum, across the lifespan, and different sectors of society. Other participants agreed that the purpose of a national plan is to achieve regional cooperation, technical support and scientific evidence, to establish guidelines for intervention.
More than 600 parents and professionals attended the event which culminated in the presentation of Ecuador's plan to Light It Up Blue on April 2nd. Five major cities around Ecuador lit their national monuments, government offices, and other landmarks blue, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Quito and the historic Presidential Palace. The Vice President of Ecuador himself flipped the switch that illuminated a bright blue light on autism in our country of 15 and a half million.
As a next step, Ecuador will continue with this commitment to the execution of multiple activities aimed to place this topic into the social agenda of the country. We look forward to continuing to explore partnership opportunities with Autism Speaks and we thank the organization for its tremendous support.
Watch Ecuador's World Autism Awareness Day PSA below: