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Challenges and opportunities to improve autism services in low-income countries: lessons from a situational analysis in Ethiopia

Tekola, B.; Baheretibeb, Y.; Roth, I.; Tilahun, D.; Fekadu, A.; Hanlon, C. and Hoekstra, R.A. (2016). Challenges and opportunities to improve autism services in low-income countries: lessons from a situational analysis in Ethiopia. Global mental health, 3(e21)

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1017/gmh.2016.17
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Abstract

Background.
Little has been reported about service provision for children with autism in low-income countries. This study explored the current service provision for children with autism and their families in Ethiopia, the existing challenges and urgent needs, and stakeholders’ views on the best approaches to further develop services.
Methods.
A situational analysis was conducted based on i) qualitative interviews with existing service providers; ii) consultation with a wider group of stakeholders through two stakeholder workshops; and iii) information available in the public domain. Findings were triangulated where possible.
Results.
Existing diagnostic and educational services for children with autism are scarce and largely confined to Ethiopia’s capital city, with little provision in rural areas. Families of children with autism experience practical and psychosocial challenges, including severe stigma. Informants further raised the lack of culturally and contextually appropriate autism instruments as an important problem to be addressed. The study informants and local stakeholders provided several approaches for future service provision expansion, including service decentralisation, mental health training and awareness raising initiatives.
Conclusions.
Services for children with autism in Ethiopia are extremely limited; appropriate care for these children is further impeded by stigma and lack of awareness. Ethiopia’s plans to scale up mental healthcare integrated in primary healthcare provides an opportunity to expand services for children with autism and other developmental disorders. These plans and additional strategies outlined in this paper can help to address the current service provision gaps and may also inform service enhancement approaches in other low-income countries.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 The Authors
ISSN: 2054-4251
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not Set7770Autism Speaks Foundation
Extra Information: Supplementary project material available at:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/gmh.2016.17
Keywords: Africa; autism; child; mental health services; stigma
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Life, Health and Chemical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Biomedical Research Network (BRN)
Item ID: 47016
Depositing User: Ilona Roth
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2016 09:57
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2016 04:40
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/47016
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