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Bangladesh: Schizophrenia and autism treatment, services, and societal attitudes

Diagnosis and treatment

  • “The identification and treatment of children with Autism in Bangladesh was confined to a few Medical College Hospitals and Post Graduate Institutes. Even doctors were not aware of the clinical features of Autism and its management and sometimes cannot understand the disorder. […] Due to lack of trained professionals we are unable to reach autistic children. They don't have easy access to a tertiary level hospital. Not all doctors at Upazila and district level are educated on autism. So misdiagnosis and mistreatment still occurs. Another challenge that has to be overcome is in education. Autistic children have difficulties entering normal schools, even if they are capable intellectually and have relatively "good" behavior. Most schools are reluctant to have autistic students, they foresee many difficulties in handling and teaching autistic children. There are no curriculums for training of teachers of autistic children, by government and private institutions. Even there is no facility for short-term training for teachers of autistic children. Late diagnosis of autism in children occurs due to poor awareness regarding autism among many doctors. And even of those doctors screening children with autism, many do not know to whom to refer their patients. The case is more acute for under-privileged autistic children. We now have many adolescents on the spectrum who are not going to school, there is no occupational training for them, so most of them stay home and live with their parents, which creates a big stress for the family.”

Shahnawaz Bin Tabib, “Autism awareness in Bangladesh and its challenges”, The Independent, 11 April 2016, last accessed: 23 February 2023


  • “Physician’s opinion is, in case of autism most of the physicians do not encourage prescribing drugs. However, antipsychotic drugs were more popular based on hyper or hypo attitudes shown by the children. […] Our study showed that around 56% parents chooses government hospital for treatment, an important reason may be affordable treatment cost and availability of selected medicine at free of cost. Also, as autistic children need emergency room almost more than nine times than a normal child, it can also be a prime reason to visit government hospital. […]

During our study we had observed that, 82% parents were not satisfied by the steps taken by the government yet. This study observed that, apart from alarming increase rate of autism in Dhaka City, modern diagnosis and medication facilities as well as therapies are deficit. Therefore, the new born babies and upcoming parents are at great risk due to insufficiency of awareness.”

Md Shariful Islam et al., “Analyzing the Status of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Amid Children with Intellectual Disabilities in Bangladesh” Biomedical & Pharmacology Journal, June 2018. Vol. 11(2), p. 689-701, last accessed: 23 February 2023


  • “Families across the socioeconomic spectrum receive treatment from public (government hospitals or institutes) and private organizations (clinics/private practitioners). Approximately 200 psychiatrists and 50 psychologists are currently available for roughly 160 million people in Bangladesh. Access in rural areas is poor since most of the practitioners are located in cities. Bangladesh has a limited number of hospitals that are equipped with professionals and resources for initial assessment and diagnosis of ASD. Currently, mental health services are provided in 64 districts and 39 upazilas (sub-districts) of the country through the Institute of Paediatric Neurodisorder and Autism (IPNA) of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Psychiatry Departments of Medical College hospitals, 103 disability service and support centers, and 15 child development centers. […]

A lack of reliable information became one of the dominant themes from the interview data. Most of the parents that we interviewed reported that they did not find necessary information about the appropriate care practices for their CWA in many contexts. Those parents often looked for relevant information over the Internet, but failed. In some cases, even when relevant information was found, it was difficult for them to trust the source of information.”

Upol Ehsan, “Confronting Autism in Urban Bangladesh: Unpacking Infrastructural and Cultural Challenges” EAI Endorsed Transactions on Pervasive Health and Technology, 24 July 2018, last accessed: 23 February 2023