Toward a healthier and more just society for children and families
Posted on Jun 30 2014 by the Canadian Paediatric Society | Permalink
Andrew Lynk MD MSc FRCPC D.Litt.(Hons)
President, Canadian Paediatric Society
Delivered in Montreal, June 25, 2014
Bonjour mes amis. Bienvenue à Montreal! Welcome friends and colleagues. My name is Andrew Lynk, and I’m a community paediatrician from beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and a proud member of CPS.
This has been a busy and productive past 12 months for the CPS.
Our 12 key committees published 19 position statements, dealing with topics such as bike helmets and concussions, SSRI use in children, antimicrobial stewardship, the importance of provincial child and youth death reviews, and management of UTIs.
Our flagship journal, Paediatrics & Child Health, led by Dr. Noni MacDonald, was published 10 times, and sent to over 10,000 grateful paediatricians and family doctors…informing and changing practices, challenging governments to do better, and improving care for Canada’s 8 million newborns, children and youth from coast to coast to coast. We are so proud of our Journal.
Our multi-media Active Kids, Healthy Kids campaign was launched in October, led by Dr. Claire LeBlanc, to help physicians talk to parents about physical activity and sedentary behavior. Canadian kids just scored a D- on an international report card for physical activity, and we’re hoping this campaign will start to improve things.
We are also pricing recreational sports out of the range of thousands of poor kids across the country. We are cutting the time for recess and lunchtime at schools, so kids don’t get a decent break for fresh air and play. We can do better. Every school board across the country should have assigned a paediatrician as a consultant, linked into a national CPS network. And while we’re at it, let’s insist every high school across the country have a full service youth health centre.
The CPS has started an Early Years Task Force, and recently launched web resources for members. We now know how toxic stress injures young brains. Nationally, we need to determine and share the best interventions and policies to support parents and families, to provide a nurturing, peaceful home for all children.
So I challenge the federal leaders to debate the early years during next year’s election. National security is not all about buying expensive fighter jets and building more prisons, it is more about caring how we put the first years first.
Last spring, CPS launched the Caring for Kids New to Canada website, led by Drs. Tony Barozzino and Chuck Hui, a fantastic resource that aims to improve care for the nearly 100,000 new children and youth who come to Canada annually. Our challenge is to sustain and enhance this wonderful resource in the coming years. I am so proud of all the staff and volunteer physicians who designed this, and for the funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
We have launched several web-based, self-directed CMEs on topics like Aboriginal child health and children with school problems.
We answered tons of media requests, the biggest this year being about vaccine hesitancy.
Our Healthy Generations Foundation, led by Dr. Joanne Embree, continues to support such great projects as:
- Our annual CPS Resident Advocacy Grants,
- Healthy Child Uganda, which since its inception, has seen a 50% drop in the under-5-year-old mortality rate in the Mbarara area where it operates. Wow.
- Our Status Report, our main advocacy tool, with the next version, coming out in early 2015.
Please continue to donate to HG, and help develop tomorrow’s paediatric leaders, and make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children both here and abroad.
I am excited about a pan Canadian paediatric palliative care initiative, led by Drs. Stephen Liben and Adam Rappaport, to deliver an established curriculum on paediatric palliative care to frontline health workers across Canada. This is a welcome initiative.
Like many of you, my practice is full of children with life-shortening, life-threatening and end-of-life conditions, that demand we deliver the best in symptom relief, and psychological and family support.
Paediatrics & Child Health also intends to publish a special theme issue on palliative care in the very near future.
I recently attended the Global Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, hosted in Toronto by the Canadian government, which has pledged $3.5-billion for 2015-2020 to address priority health issues in 10 low-income countries.
We know the day of birth is the most dangerous day for mothers and infants. Almost half of the annual 260,000 maternal deaths, and 2.8 million neonatal deaths, occur at the time of labor and the day of birth. A large number of these deaths could be prevented in the next 10 years, by scaling up coverage of low tech, high impact evidence-based interventions.
But there are huge challenges. National governments in many low-income countries spend more on annual military budgets than health and education combined. Poor governance and corruption bleed away precious resources. There is a huge need for training of health care workers, and frontline and mid-level managers.
Nothing threatens the lives and well-being of children and mothers like violence and conflict, be it domestic or national.
There is no vaccine for poverty and conflict. Without food security, female education and jobs, saving newborns only to live a life of deprivation will challenge our moral intentions. Children everywhere, must not only survive, they must thrive.
Nevertheless, the upcoming Canadian investments in global newborn & child health represent an opportunity for our CPS sections and members to get involved, and make a difference.
So kudos to the federal government for supporting this MNCH initiative, and supporting our Caring for Kids New Canada website.
But the federal government was wrong two years ago, and is wrong today, for continuing to restrict healthcare for refugee women and kids living in Canada. This is not how Canada should treat highly vulnerable human beings.
Twenty-five years from now, someone in this audience, probably one of our young residents, may be standing here as president. I wonder what our world will look like then? More importantly, what do we want it to look like, for children and youth both here and abroad?
How do we best support paediatricians to face all the future challenges coming our way? From superbugs, to leadership development, to the grey tsunami competition for resources, widening income disparities and a revolution in genetic therapies.
How do we leverage our positive and substantial reputation, as healers and champions for children and youth, to advocate in ever more effective and focused ways? The goal being a healthier, more just society for all children and families.
There are many unknowns about how to create a better future.
But one thing I know for sure, is that together, as members of the CPS family, we have in the past, and will continue in the future, to make a positive difference.
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