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Work together to promote global child health, pediatricians urge

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Holly Korschun

"Hands-on experience caring for children from resource-poor settings improves patient care at home," the study authors write.

Academic health centers in the United States have growing opportunities to bolster patient care, education and research on global child health, three pediatricians from Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta write in an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics.

Through collaborative efforts in global child health, academic health centers can improve patient care, standardize education and training, and expand research – both in the United States and in developing countries, the authors write.

"Hands-on experience caring for children from resource-poor settings improves patient care at home," the authors write. "Many American cities have large numbers of immigrants, refugees and international adoptees with specialized health needs as well as underrepresented minorities who often face poverty and health disparities. Thus global health is also local health."

Non-profit organizations such as the Gates Foundation and the UK Wellcome Trust are investing increasing amounts in promoting global child health, and academic health centers have an important role to play in making sure those investments are well implemented, the authors write.

Working to improve child health in developing countries is good training for Americans, but should be viewed as a two-way street.

When doctors and nurses train in developing countries, academic health centers should agree on best practices and promote longer-term placements such as the Peace Corps' recently established Global Health Service Partnership. When it comes to research careers, promotion policies should deemphasize lead authorship in favor of collaborative international research, the authors argue.

"Academic health centers should view building local research capacity as an important objective," they write.

The authors are:

  • Parminder Suchdev, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics and global health at Emory and director of the Global Child Health program in Emory's Department of Pediatrics.
  • Robert Breiman, MD, director of Emory’s Global Health Institute
  • Barbara Stoll, MD, George W. Brumley, Jr., Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics in Emory University School of Medicine and Chief Academic Officer of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

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