Social Paediatrics - A Call to Action!
This is a guest post from Dr. Denis Daneman, Paediatrician-in-Chief at The Hospital for Sick Children, Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto, and President of the Paediatric Chairs of Canada (PCC).
Here are a couple of very simple questions. Why aren’t Canadians appalled by our seemingly miserable track record in child health and well being and why do we seem to be doing precious little about it? The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its 11th report issued last year placed Canada 17th among the world’s 29 wealthiest nations. Some of the data are open to challenge, e.g. how can we fare so badly in the category of Infant mortality and so much better in the percentage of low birth weight newborns? But we seem to say mechanically that we have the best health care system in the world and, well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, OECD statistics do not paint a pretty picture, so we should be paying attention. The ringer here is that, according to the Globe and Mail journalist, Geoffrey Simpson who spoke at the Paediatric Chairs of Canada (PCC) and the Canadian Child and Youth Health Coalition's symposium on Social Paediatrics held in conjunction with CAPHC's 2013 Annual CAPHC conference in Toronto last October, child health has not made it on the radar of either our federal or provincial governments.
So what can we do about? First and foremost, knock on people’s doors and tell them about the issues, not only the problems but some solutions as well. The conference last October was a great start, but only a start. Now it is time to turn up the heat. The Paediatric Chairs of Canada has taken on the issues of Social Paediatrics as one of its leading action items. We have lobbied the Feds to rescind the ugly law removing health care coverage for refugees. In partnership with CAPHC, CPS and the Coalition, we have also supported the creation of a child health commissioner for Canada, and will continue to do so actively. In the meantime, we need to spread the word.
Starting in March, PCC will lead a three part Webinar series on Social Paediatrics that will be aired live on CAPHC's weekly webinar program - "CAPHC Presents!". The first, on March 12th, will feature an overview of the status of Canada’s children highlighting those at risk groups struggling against the odds, then focus on the interrelationships between health and education. Presenters include Arjumand Siddiqi from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and Maryam Mehtar a paediatrician at the University of Saskatchewan. A month later the second webinar will focus on child protection issues, and then the final presentation in this series on vulnerable populations.
We believe that these webinars will attract a big audience representing a broad spectrum of thinking. At the end we can only hope that sufficient synergies will have emerged to embolden the child health advocacy community to kick it up a notch or two. Join us and become a leading advocate for our children and youth!