Posted on March 25, 2015

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently celebrated World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) with a full-day event, featuring a range of exciting and fun-filled activities for children with Down Syndrome and their families. More than 150 attendees gathered at the event, which was celebrated for the fifth year at HMC.

Hosted by Child Development and Rehabilitation Services at HMC’s Rumailah Hospital, the event was designed to provide a platform for greater interaction between healthcare professionals, patients and their families. This year’s celebration embraced the theme: “My Opportunities, My Choices” – advocating for equal opportunities, rights, and life choices for children with Down syndrome, and stressed the role of their families as a significant part of the community.

Head of the Child Development Center (CDC) at HMC, Dr. Haitham El Bashir commented on the significance of the occasion: “This celebration is very dear to our hearts as it is one of our annual events that our patients and their families really look forward to. It gives all of us an opportunity to come together as one community, where children with Down syndrome feel loved and welcomed. They are able to enjoy the many activities with their parents and siblings as well as those healthcare professionals they see only in a clinical setting for medical services.”

“On this day, we celebrate these children for their unique capabilities and achievements and let them know that they are indeed invaluable to us and we also encourage parents to speak to us about their concerns and meet other parents like them,” Dr. El Bashir added. Ms. Fatima Mustafa, Acting Assistant Director of Child Rehabilitation, stated: “We believe that given the right opportunities, dedicated support and care to children with Down Syndrome they can function as normally as anyone else in society. They can attend mainstream schools, enjoy social activities with friends and family, attend universities and also have jobs.”

HMC holds World Down Syndrome 2 [].jpgMr. Alvin Rol Caprio, Acting Supervisor, Occupational Therapy, and Mr. Shamim Kabeer, Acting Coordinator of the Early Intervention Program at RH, who were also part of the organizing team, outlined the program and activities during the event. “We designed the program of the event in a way that it catered to children up to the age of 10.This included therapeutic games, face painting, fancy dress, a photo booth, henna painting, balloon twisting, and a captivating magic show,” said Mr. Caprio.

“The event also included many different interactive stalls which were led by the rehabilitation services team, including, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, child psychology, special education, nursing, and MADA (Qatar Assistive Technology Center),” Mr. Kabeer noted. Down Syndrome, which is also termed Tristomy 21, is a genetic condition that occurs due to the presence of an extra chromosome. Individuals with this condition have 47 chromosomes in their cells, instead of the usual 46. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the estimated incidence of this condition is 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births around the world.

The CDC provides dedicated support and clinical consultation, as well as child development services to children with Down Syndrome in Qatar, from birth until 14 years. The physicians at CDC follow a clinical guideline protocol that incorporates international best practices and offers follow-up to children every three to six months. The Early Intervention Program at CDC accepts children from a very early age and includes parent-to-parent counseling, family and group therapy, in addition to occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education and physiotherapy services.  The center sees an average of 190 children with Down Syndrome in the child development clinics.