KUALA LUMPUR: A statement by Kapar MP Dr Halimah Ali associating 'Menu Rahmah' offerings with health risks such as Autism can create misunderstandings and is an insult to the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) community in Malaysia.
Dewan Negara member, Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi, who expressed disappointment over the statement made during the debate on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address at the Dewan Rakyat, hoped that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Member of Parliament (MP) would be brought to the Committee of Privileges for further action.
"Dr Halimah Ali's statement is not based on facts or scientific data and has given the wrong impression to the public," she said in a statement today, adding that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disability that causes problems in language, behavioural and speech development involving children and was not a physical disease.
According to her, autism can be identified at the early stages of a child's development by their own parents and is usually diagnosed around the ages of 1 to 3, and being quite significant as children reach 6 years of age.
Some factors that cause autism include genetic features, family history of autism, the mother's age and physical condition during pregnancy, complications during pregnancy and birth as well as infections during pregnancy.
Ras Adiba said the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one out of 100 children globally has autism, and based on the Social Welfare Department's statistics, as of June 30 last year, a total of 36,601 individuals in Malaysia have been confirmed to have autism, and from the total, 24,748 of them are below 12.
"Therefore, I urge that the Health Ministry (MoH) and the Women, Family and Community Development ministry to immediately establish a National Autism Council, while the Clinical Autism Registration Department should introduce a mandatory reporting of autism cases in Malaysia.
"Also, Subfertility Clinics under the National Population and Family Development Board should be involved in tackling autism at birth and to expand the number of High Functioning Autism Rehabilitation within Community Centres nationwide to develop the potential of autistic children," she said.
She also urged everyone to respect the sensitivities of PwDs in the country. – Bernama