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Defining pediatricians' role in global health: 10 recommendations :

November 19, 2018

The stakes are high and urgent action is needed by all pediatricians to fulfill our promise to improve the health and well-being of all children throughout the world.

This is the underlying message of a new AAP policy statement The Role of Pediatricians in Global Health, which is available at https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2997 and will be published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Ninety percent of the world’s children live in low- and middle-income countries where barriers to health contribute to significant child morbidity and mortality. Global health also is local health as disparities in health and its determinants often strike across ethnic and cultural groups, both in the U.S. and abroad. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a global framework for eliminating poverty and improving health and well-being. Meeting these global goals requires an emphasis on the health and well-being of all children and their right to both survive and thrive in an equitable and sustainable world.

Role of pediatricians

Global health is an integral function of the profession of pediatrics. Pediatricians may engage in global health activities in multiple domains, including patient care, teaching and training, research and advocacy. For example, the AAP, the American Board of Pediatrics and their academic partners, represented by the Federation of Pediatric Organizations, have called for global health training for all pediatricians. As a result, more than one-fourth of U.S. pediatric residency programs have implemented standardized curricula for residency training in global child health.

The AAP declares that pediatricians are dedicated to the health and well-being of all children. To fulfill this promise, all pediatricians can work collaboratively to improve the health of children, regardless of their nationality, culture, language, religion or socioeconomic status.

Key recommendations

The policy, from the Section on International Child Health, describes 10 recommendations for pediatricians and pediatric organizations to enhance global health education and training, patient care, research and advocacy. Key recommendations include:

  • Make training in global health available to pediatricians and trainees.
  • Prior to engaging in short- or long-term global health work, become knowledgeable of best practices in global health, including pre-travel preparation, partnerships, language study, cultural sensitivity and ethical considerations.
  • Advocate for government policies that support global health.
  • Consider a global health perspective in organization mission and activities, including addressing disparities and supporting young pediatricians to become globally minded.

Drs. Suchdev and Howard are lead authors of the policy. Dr. Suchdev also is chair and Dr. Howard is a member of the AAP Section on International Child Health Executive Committee.

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