Ninety percent of the world's children live in low- and middle-income countries where barriers to health contribute to childhood illnesses and death. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in a new policy statement, "The Role of Pediatricians in Global Health," describes barriers such as poor control of infectious diseases, malnutrition, health care worker shortages, armed conflict, injuries and environmental health issues.
The policy statement, published in the December 2018 issue of Pediatrics, offers insight on how global health impacts local health within the U.S. For instance, emerging global threats, such as Ebola and Zika viruses, are appearing in the United States – and playing a role in local health.
Pediatricians in the United States routinely care for immigrants, refugees, non-English speakers, and international adoptees who often have special health needs much like children in low- and middle-income countries.
The AAP recommends that pediatricians have access to training in global health, including immigrant and refugee health, an appreciation of cultural differences, disaster management, ethical considerations and language studies.
The statement also encourages pediatric training in community health issues such as strategies for prevention and treatment of common diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Pre-travel training is also important. Pediatricians are encouraged to be informed on best practices regarding international medical work for example how best to work with local partners to ensure awareness and respect for global health ethics.
The authors urge action by pediatricians to improve the health and well being of all children throughout the world.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: