Dr. Sadriya Al Kohji, Assistant Director of Medicine for Child & Adolescent Health at PHCC and National Lead for Healthy Children and Adolescent Health at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), says that engaging persons with special needs in a cross-productive environment in the community is an indispensable step at all levels, especially since the COVID-19 experience has encouraged the inclusion of persons with disabilities in employment opportunities through the adoption of the "work from home" mechanism for this group.
The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) provides preventive and awareness services aiming at improving various health aspects for the community members, including health promotion services, empowerment of community members to adopt a healthy and balanced lifestyle, health awareness and education using educational materials and messages designed to address the needs of population, and referrals to specialized services if necessary.
“A Friendly Environment”
In this context, Dr. Sadriya Al Kohji highlighted that one of PHCC’s most important initiatives is the provision of health services in a disability-friendly environment in health centers, where sensory-friendly spaces have been developed in outpatient waiting areas and dental clinics which are set up with equipment and toys for children and adolescents with disabilities.
The Fast-Track Service has also been launched for all age groups of persons with disabilities, aiming at facilitating and accelerating access to medical counselling and treatment services with the support of Hayyak team and medical staff at the health centers. A policy for persons with disabilities had also been developed for implementation in all health centers.
As part of the fast-track service, to improve and facilitate access to PHCC services, the employees received training on how to communicate and deal with persons with visual impairment. Employee from both the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) have also been trained in sign language to empower medical and administrative staff to better communicate and effectively deal with persons with hearing impairment.
“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)”
The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) provides the early screening for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as past of the well-baby program which is carried out at age of 18 months and 30 months. The ASD examination is conducted during the well-baby clinics’ visits according to the national screening schedule for children, in order to detect ASD earlier and make the necessary referrals for specialized care. Besides, PHCC celebrates annually the World Autism Day in April by organizing events and activities aimed at raising awareness of autism.
Dr. Sadriya Al Kohji shed light on the Early Bird program which is a training program for parents of ASD children, to support and develop their relationship with the autistic child and to facilitate communication between them.