Identifying Gaps in Knowledge, Prevalence and Care of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Tanzania – a Qualitative Review article
Introduction: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a severe neuro-developmental disorder with onset in childhood and is being increasingly recognized worldwide. Recent statistics indicate an increase from 1 out of every 90 children to almost one out of every 60 children in USA. It has also been increasingly recognized in many African countries. In Tanzania, we are noticing a large gap in information on the knowledge, prevalence and care of children with ASD.
Methods: A systemic search and an extensive survey of the existing information about ASD in Tanzania was done using various tools, including interviewing key persons, visiting facilities and identifying potential resources available for improved care of children with ASD.
Results: There is very limited information available on children with Autism in Tanzania. There have been scattered information and no concerted efforts for these children. There are about 8 public schools registered with Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEVT) and about 8 centers, privately owned and not yet registered by the MEVT. The prevalence in these centers was 437 children which may be a gross underestimate, since these are predominantly in Dar-es-Salaam and the North-Eastern Regions in Tanzania. Information from other areas is not available. The education and care in the public facility is meager and the private facilities have a huge burden of costs, and are mainly donor dependant. There is also a lack of trained human resources to cater for these children.
Conclusion: There is need to draw attention to the policy makers on the need to identify, screen, increase trained human resources and provide quality care to these children with special education needs.
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