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RIYADH: A new app has been launched to facilitate early detection and accurate diagnosis of developmental problems in children.
Launched by Alwaleed Philanthropies and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Maharat (meaning “skills” in Arabic) aims to help millions of children across the Middle East, and provide specialists with tools to detect issues through scientific and practical methods.
Amal Al-Kathiri, executive manager of local initiatives at Alwaleed Philanthropies, said the most valuable element of the app is that it provides accessible professional services for all, developed by experts in psychology, pedagogy and other relevant specialties. Most of the specialists are from Saudi Arabia, she added.
“Alwaleed Philanthropies is committed to support communities and develop sustainable solutions, which is the main goal of the app,” Al-Kathiri told Arab News.
She said Maharat will benefit those in early childhood, with particular focus on children with motor and cognitive developmental delay, hyperactivity, impulsivity, poor communication and motivation for language learning, concentration problems, attention problems and working memory deficit.
“Once families get the diagnosis from Maharat, applicants will go through the assessment stage then the treatment plan,” she added.
Al-Kathiri said experts will help applicants go through the treatment plan step by step, explaining to them the daily process, including children’s diet and what foods to avoid.
Specialists will be hired from various regions in order to provide expert advice with regard to how culture, for example, plays a role in a child’s behavior and how these cultural norms reflect on the diagnosis.
The app will provide free diagnosis. According to a patient’s family income, a specialist will decide whether treatment will also be free, and if not, how much will be charged.
“Our aim is to help people with low income get benefits from the app by avoiding paying for transportation and clinic visit fees,” said Al-Kathiri.
Alwaleed Philanthropies and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology have also cooperated with
the Elm Agency to establish a center for the deaf and hearing-impaired.
The Hearing Impaired Center Project provides services such as remote video sign-language interpreting and 24-hour dedicated interpreters when needed.

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