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Indian origin doctor moots World Down Syndrome Day

Down Syndrome is the most common cause of mental retardation and malformation that affects newborns.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2005 13:24 IST

An Indian-origin Singaporean doctor says the UN should be urged to support a call for a World Down Syndrome Day March 21, with the inaugural one on the child disease mooted for next year.

Balbir Singh, president of Down Syndrome International (DSI), told the second Southern African Conference on Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disability here that his organisation had officially earmarked March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD).

Down Syndrome is the most common cause of mental retardation and malformation that affects some newborns.

The objective of WDSD is to commemorate, create and accomplish a level of awareness and understanding of Down Syndrome through highlighting the potential and ability of people with the syndrome to be an integral part of an inclusive community, he said.

"The date was chosen to signify the uniqueness of the syndrome as the Trisomy 21 chromosome is used synonymously with Down Syndrome," said Singh.

Down Syndrome Association (DSI) Singapore, founded by Singh some 25 years ago, will host a series of events and activities to launch the inaugural WDSD.

"DSI members and related organisations worldwide will be encouraged to observe the WDSD together with the community in an appropriate manner", Singh said.

He invited participants of the conference to send delegates to Singapore for the inaugural celebrations.

Speaking to IANS, Singh conceded that even if the UN acceded to the request for an international day like the one proposed it may take some years because of the processes that have to be followed.

Singh also said that while India had a lot of state and non-governmental institutions looking after the needs of intellectually challenged people, very little was done specifically for people with Down Syndrome.

"As in all communities, the Indian community also tends to keep children and adults with Down Syndrome away from the public eye. There is unfortunately still a stigma attached to this although people with Down Syndrome can be useful members of society with support and acceptance."

Singh, who got involved in the Down Syndrome fraternity after the birth of his daughter Jaspreet 25 years ago, is proof of this.

First Published: Oct 22, 2005 13:24 IST