PSCDR committed to advancing new insights into causes of disabilities



RIYADH: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO

Published — Thursday 6 December 2012

Last update 6 December 2012 1:09 am

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In a message delivered prior to commemorating the 20th anniversary of Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (PSCDR), at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh to be held on Saturday, Prince Sultan, chairman of PSCDR said, “We are committed to advancing new research to determine the causes behind disabilities, as well as developing new strategies to prevent them and reduce their impact on individuals.”
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, will attend the event along with other high-ranking officials and dignitaries, from various sectors and foreign diplomats.
PSCDR is a non-profit research organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the disabled, through research and knowledge. 
In a previous message, Prince Salman emphasized that the issue of disability and its social and economic repercussions constitutes one of the most important challenges facing contemporary societies. 
“One of the most effective means to deal with this issue is to investigate the causes of disabilities. In addition, we must study the obstacles that constrain people with disabilities and limit their productivity and independence in society,” he said. 
He said: “The center, which is motivated by religious and humanitarian concerns for persons with disabilities, is a major contribution to the Kingdom and its benevolent society. The center has adopted plans and ambitious goals, which will be realized at the hands of highly qualified personnel. God willing, this blessed institution will seek to mobilize all the useful resources that can serve the various interests of people with disabilities, our religion, our nation and humanity at large.”
He continued: “We look forward to a time when new research findings will lead to more effective services and support systems for persons with disabilities and their families.” 
The 20th anniversary celebratory event will highlight the diligent work the PSCDR and its partners have conducted during the past two decades. The center aspires to become a recognized center of excellence in disability research with a global impact. 
The center established various programs and activities including, training programs for disabled persons, a national project for learning disabilities, a universal accessibility program and an early detection program. Furthermore, PSCDR created the Prince Salman Award for Disability Research, to encourage and support researchers who have contributed to field of disability. 
In a similar message, the board of directors said that the next decade holds the promise of being the most exciting and productive in the history of research on disabilities. “If we capitalize on the advances in the research on genetics, neuroscience, and behavior over the past 30 years, we will be able to integrate these advances into a bio-behavioral approach that will allow us to eradicate or prevent many of the disabilities that have puzzled our ancestors for centuries.”
The message emphasized that technology already exists to prevent most disabilities, however research now has to develop and perfect these technological advances to make them cost-effective to the public. The role of PSCDR is to ensure that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East play a leading role in making this revolution accessible for people with disabilities and their families. Moreover, best practices must be based on a strong validated research foundation.
The Prince Salman Center has been established to provide this function for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A substantial beginning has been made, but much remains to be done before the center takes its rightful place in the international community of scholars.
The PSCDR’s board of directors is responsible for the oversight of the center. They meet at least four time a year to allow for communication among the directors, executive committee members and the center’s executive administration. 
Their main tasks are to safeguard the mission of the center and to establish the annual strategic plan, as well as allocate the resources and set the priorities of the organization. 
The center’s mission statements are not static documents, and may need to be reviewed and revised periodically to reflect changes in the center or in its operating environment. One of the major responsibilities of the board is to hire the center’s executive director.
The board must rely on the executive director to undertake the day-to-day management of the center and to determine which issues are brought before the board for consideration and approval. The board must establish with the executive director a process for setting goals and measuring performance on an annual basis. 
Effective organizational planning is an integral part of the center’s work, and the board is an active participant in the planning process, as well as the subsequent assessments of the extent to which plans have been realized.
Its other priorities include, determining and monitoring the center’s program, as part of the regular evaluation of the center’s work. It is the board’s responsibility to stay informed about programs, to ask good questions that determine the program’s effectiveness and impact, and to make decisions that move the center and its programs forward. Evaluation should be ongoing and should have as its goal the continuous improvement of the center’s programs and activities.
As for mobilizing resources, they need to assist in the process of identifying and cultivating resources, including funding, for the center. As senior and well-respected individuals within their spheres of influence, they should be willing to open doors and support the ongoing resource development activities of the center’s staff.
Management of financial resources: The board carries the obligation for the sound fiscal management of the center. Although the center’s staff conducts the day-to-day financial affairs, the board must develop policies that place prudent limits on the center’s financial activities and ensure a system of checks and balances is maintained. A critical tool the board of directors uses to ensure accountability is the annual external audit. 
Effective Board practice involves their success in meeting their responsibilities by incorporating good practices into their work and perpetuating these practices through ongoing board education and orientation.

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