Prevalence rate for developmental disorders and learning delays could be as high as one in six children, with thousands of cases currently undiagnosed in the UAE
UAE, Dubai, 10 June 2013: Al Jalila Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to transform lives by making long-term contributions to healthcare, has announced the launch of its first programme, ‘Ta'alouf', to tackle children's developmental disorders. Ta'alouf is Arabic for ‘harmony' and reflects the Foundation's dedication to fostering a unified society where parents, educators, strategic partners and the wider community work together to empower children with disabilities to rise above what they cannot do, and excel in the things they can do. The programme is in line with the Foundation's mandate of enhancing the UAE's medical treatment, education and research capabilities as outlined in the royal decree by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Developmental disorders cover a broad spectrum of conditions that may impair a child's physical, behavioural, learning or language skills. As part of its strategy to harness the strengths of various organisations and maximise the benefits to the UAE population, the Foundation's strategic partners for Ta'alouf include the Ministry of Education (MOE), Knowledge & Human Development Authority (KHDA), Community Development Authority (CDA), Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC).
Announcing Ta'alouf, Her Excellency Raja Easa Al Gurg, member of the Board of Trustees and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Al Jalila Foundation, stated: “Developmental disorders should not only be approached from a medical perspective. There are also academic challenges in integrating students with special needs into the mainstream education system; as well as potential economic benefits if students with special needs are empowered to contribute to national prosperity. These complexities have driven us to bring together strategic partners with medical, academic, scientific and community outreach expertise, in order to alleviate the imbalances faced by children with developmental disorders.”
While studies are ongoing to determine the exact prevalence rate of developmental disorders in the UAE, in other advanced countries like the US the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that as many as one in every six children could have one or more developmental disorders or developmental delays of varying severity. Even the most conservative estimates that put the worldwide prevalence rate at 1 in 1,000 children would still translate to over 8,200 cases in the UAE.
As part of its end-to-end approach, the Foundation will benefit from its synergies with strategic partners in their respective areas of specialisation. The Ministry of Education and Knowledge & Human Development Authority will contribute to Ta'alouf through their academic expertise to maintain high standards in the Special Education Needs (SEN) curriculum, while fostering greater inclusion of parents in detecting and addressing various disorders. The Community Development Authority will use its experience in community outreach to ensure that opportunities are extended in an equitable manner to the affected children, so that they can fulfill their potential and contribute to UAE society. One of the most vital aspects in addressing developmental disorders is early diagnosis; Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Healthcare City are well positioned to support families and children through their medical experts.
Underlining Al Jalila Foundation's commitment to promoting greater research in this field, more studies are required to reveal why the prevalence rate is significantly higher among boys than girls. The information gap is further complicated by the fact that thousands of cases remain undiagnosed in the UAE due to inadequate awareness, prompting the Foundation to make early detection and public awareness part of the building blocks of its programme.
To support its efforts the Foundation has set a fundraising target of AED100 million in 2013, which will be invested in crucial areas such as screening initiatives, scholarships to nurture medical specialists, as well as research grants to explore the root causes and potential treatments for developmental disorders and other health challenges prevalent in the region.
Prospective donors and partners can get more information by contacting Al Jalila Foundation on firstname.lastname@example.org or 800 ALJALILA.
Al Jalila Foundation
Al Jalila Foundation was officially launched as a not-for-profit organisation by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on 1 April 2013. The foundation is a local initiative with global aspirations that aims to make lasting and significant contributions in healthcare to transform lives.
Al Jalila Foundation's mandate is to promote medical treatment, education and research by investing in the UAE's medical treatment capabilities; providing scholarships to nurture a homegrown generation of medical professionals; and awarding grants for groundbreaking research that addresses health challenges prevalent in the region. In line with its vision to be a global healthcare foundation, Al Jalila Foundation collaborates with other philanthropic organisations locally and internationally to achieve regional and global benefits.