• 3/30/2024

    Doha, 30 March 2024: To commemorate World Down Syndrome Day 2024, Al Maha Specialized Pediatric Care Center, Al Wakra Hospital at Hamad Medical Corporation has raised awareness among the public to connect with individuals affected by Down Syndrome to promote their optimal quality of life and protect their rights.

    On 21 March, educational and awareness leaflets, posters, and roll-ups about Down syndrome were on display in the awareness booths at the lobby of Al Maha Specialized Pediatric Care Center and the child development center to raise awareness of the condition among hospital visitors.

    Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are "packages" of genes in the body. They determine how a baby's body forms and functions as it grows. According to WHO, the estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1000 to 1 in 1100 live births. Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical difficulties and associated medical issues.

    World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), 21 March, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.The date for WDSD being the 21st day of March, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. On 21 March each year, the Down syndrome community creates a single global voice advocating for the rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome.

    Dr. Ammar Abou Shaheen, Deputy Head of the Child Development Services, explains that the theme for this year’s WDSD is “End the Stereotypes” aiming to advocate for the rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome. “This year’s theme signals the importance of understanding that individuals affected with Down Syndrome have rights like all people, that are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect, and independence. Each person with Down syndrome is different. They don’t all act the same way or like the same things. Each has an individual identity, interests, likes and dislikes, gifts and talents, just like everyone else. Having Down syndrome or an intellectual disability is just one part of who they are!” he says.

    “For World Down Syndrome Day 2024, we call for people to ‘End the Stereotypes’. A stereotype is a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like. They are often inaccurate, or simply wrong. Stereotypes can stop us from treating individuals with Down Syndrome like other people,” Dr. Shaheen notes.

    He emphasizes that advocacy can change the way that people think, work, and behave. “By taking action together, we can ensure that the rights of individuals having Down syndrome are protected, warranting their inclusion, participation and integration into the community and society as a whole.”

    Dr. Shaheen explains further that HMC provides children with Down Syndrome with a variety of programs and services, including developmental screening and evaluations and early intervention program at the Al Maha Specialized Pediatric Care Center and the Child Development Center.

    According to him, now the center provides services to around ­­­­122 children with Down Syndrome who receive therapeutic Interventions and family training programs conducted by highly qualified multi-disciplinary teams of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, special education experts and pediatric psychology specialists.

    Individuals with Down Syndrome can lead normal lives if given the right opportunities, the necessary support and appropriate health care, adds Dr. Shaheen.