Project to support the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism in Algeria (Autism PROFAS C+)
Autism, a major public health problem in Algeria
Autism is a disorder with quite serious consequences for the people affected, the families and the community. In many cases, and with no early treatment, it progresses towards more or less serious permanent mental and social disabilities. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are one of the main causes of mental disability in children aged 5-14 years.
In Algeria, it is a major public health problem due to its scale, its consequences and the demographic characteristics of the current population (41 million inhabitants and almost a million births a year). With an internationally accepted average prevalence of 1%, and by using the demographic data of the National Office of Statistics (ONS) for 2015, it is estimated that there are some 400,000 people with autism.
Insufficient diagnosis and care
Today, the possibilities for diagnosis and care for people with autism remain insufficient.
In recent years, just a few centres (services) have been developing diagnosis and care programmes based on international recommendations. However, training in diagnosis and care methods is not yet included in the various university courses. This means that few therapists are trained in the main recommended methods and procedures and there is a lack of certified trainers in this field.
Yet these centres are facing growing demand due to parental awareness, whereas they do not have qualified staff. This means that many children do not receive a precise diagnosis or appropriate care and services. Given the pathologies associated with autism, these children often develop a more or less serious mental and/or social disability. In rare cases, they manage to have a school education, but with many difficulties.
The issue has therefore become a major concern for the health and education authorities. It requires improving the diagnosis and care for people with autism, in line with the relevant international recommendations. Interesting experiences in public health, in national solidarity and local associations (associations of parents of autistic children, psycho-educational care centres), could form the backbone of the care system if they are strengthened.
Improving the quality of care for children with ASD
This project therefore more specifically aims to help the Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform (MSPRH) in Algeria:
1. Improve the screening and diagnosis of people with autism;
2. Improve the care and support for people with autism and their families;
3. Support the definition of regulatory frameworks for the management of autism.
Improving screening and diagnosis
• Diagnosis to assess the screening and diagnosis systems.
• Screening and diagnosis training in Algeria.
• Placements in screening and diagnosis centres in France.
Care and support for people with autism and their families
• Diagnosis to assess the care and support for people with autism and their families.
• Training in care in Algeria.
• Enrolment for the “Autism” DIU diploma in France.
• Placements in centres and associations working on care and support.
Support for the definition of regulatory frameworks for the management of autism
• Diagnosis to support the creation of autism referral centres.
• Support missions for the creation of autism referral centres.
• Interministerial working and reflection groups on the revision of initial university training programmes.
• Working groups for consultation on the autism plan.
• Organisation of seminars.
Autism PROFAS C+ project news
In January 2020, the experts Saïd Acef and Ghislain Magerotte started an expert mission to assess the conditions for medical-psychological, social and educational care for people with autism. To mark World Autism Awareness Day 2020, Prof. Mohamed Chakali, a psychiatrist and focal point for the project at MSPRH, and Saïd Acef take a look at the issues and actions supported by the project.
Read the interview: Autism: Algeria mobilised to improve care