Services to be Provided at Manzini Autism Centre
…facility will be the first of its kind in the country
As part of its Integrated Development Plan (IDP), the Municipal Council of Manzini has flagged the provision of responsive integrated health and social welfare services as one of its key deliverables during the period up to the year 2024.
One of the projects that the Municipality is in the process of delivering in line with the afore-mentioned strategic objective is the development of an Autism Respite Centre; and the necessary structure has already been put up in Fairview South, just below KaMthunyelelwa shopping complex. Members of the public will be informed as soon as it becomes operational. The facility will provide therapy services for growth and development to affected children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This will include diagnosis, family counselling and mentorship, physiotherapy, speech, language and behavioral therapy. It will also provide daytime respite services (pre-arranged day care services for children with Autism). Only autistic children aged between 0 and 12 years will be handled for a start and no adults. It will also provide psycho-social support to affected families of children with ASD.
Moreover, it will be responsible for the creation of awareness on Autism and related conditions. Advocacy on issues affecting children with Autism and their parents will also be done by the facility. It will also mobilise information and public education resources as well as training on ASD so that parents and the general members of the public are knowledgeable about how to handle children with Autism. The project has been necessitated by an observed increase in the number of children who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It has also been observed that there are a number of children within the communities who exhibit symptoms of autism spectrum disorder but have not been diagnosed as a result of lack of ASD services in public health facilities.
These children have been identified in the Municipality’s neighbourhood social centre (care point) programme which also provides pre-school services for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Other cases were picked through the schools health programme which is undertaken through the Council-run Filter Clinic that is based within the civic centre premises. The Autism Respite Centre will be the first of its kind not only in the City of Manzini but the country at large and its target are children (between ages 0 and 12) from underprivileged families who cannot afford services provided in the private health care sector.
…THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT AUTISM
- The Kingdom of Eswatini does not yet have statistics on Autism. However, most pediatricians’ assertion is that about 60 in 100 children that visit public hospitals exhibit symptoms of Autism.
- Children tend to miss out on early childhood education and primary education because of their inability to communicate.
- They also have difficulty accessing other essential services like medical, psychological and physiological services that they need for their mental development because of the cost associated with such.
- The National Psychiatric Centre and Mbabane Government Hospital provide some of the required services, particularly remedial assistance to children with Autism. However, this facility will specialize on provision of autism rehabilitative/therapy services.
…MANZINI COUNCIL PROPELS YOUTH INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
As part of its Local Economic Development (LED) strategic deliverable, the Municipal Council of Manzini is in the process of establishing a youth business development project whose key objective is to empower the youth with entrepreneurial skills. The target age group is the 18 to 30 years bracket and the project has been given the name Sukuma Youth Business Development Project. The Municipality will pilot the project with municipal wards three (Fairview South, Fairview North and Helemisi) and four (Ngwane Park Township, Ngwane Park Extension, Sihlahleni, Ticancweni and Ndumbu Township) and thereafter roll it out to other townships.
The youth from the two wards have already been sensitised on entrepreneurship and business plan development. About 10 youths from both municipal wards have shown appetite and enthusiasm for the project. They have been encouraged to group themselves into cooperatives or companies and will soon be submitting business proposals to Council. The winning business proposal will get start-up capital from Council’s Sukuma Revolving Fund. The start-up capital will not be in cash but the Municipality will instead fund the businesses’ resource needs. The capital will be repaid within a defined period so that it can benefit other wards. The following photos were taken during one of the entrepreneurship sensitisation workshops which was held last week Wednesday and Thursday at the LaMvelase Help Centre Boardroom…