Mental health expert Saima Wazed Hossain has stressed the need for addressing mental health issues during emergencies at a regional workshop of the World Health Organization in Nepal.
Chairing a session at the two-day workshop ended on Wednesday, she explained why it is important to address mental health issues in a disaster or emergency situation, and gave insight into initiatives taken in Bangladesh.
She also suggested how to develop a national strategy to provide such support.
A US-licenced school psychologist, Saima is a member of WHO’s Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health. She is the chairman of the Bangladesh’s National Advisory Committee for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, she spearheads the mental health campaign in Bangladesh and advocates for people-centric approach.
She also wrote a paper on the mental health and disaster situation in a book ‘Crises, Conflict and Disability: Ensuring equality’ which was globally launched in 2O15.
She stressed involving persons with mental health problems for planning disaster risk management, and said negligence of their conditions in disaster risk management can transform a one day’s disaster into a lifelong burden.
Bangladesh in 2015 hosted the Dhaka Conference on Disability and Disaster Risk Management, which was the first global meet after the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
Saima had then said the diverse needs of people with different types of disabilities made addressing the issue ‘complex’ during any disaster.
For example, she had said, those who cannot hear a siren need one kind of support while those on a wheelchair need a different type of support during evacuation in any calamity.
Those with neurodevelopment disorders like autism cannot even express their need. “We have to consider all those perspectives and listen to their needs,” she had said.
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