09:57pm Sunday 12 July 2020

Work together to promote global child health, pediatricians urge

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

The authors have the following recommendations for collaboration:

Patient care

1. Develop best practice guidelines for global health work

 2. Establish long-term partnerships for clinical exchange

Education and training

 3. Develop and adopt standardized curricula in global child health with committed faculty

 4. Incorporate innovative technologies for global health training including mobile technology and distance learning

 5. Establish well-defined global health career paths


 6. Invest in international multidisciplinary research partnerships

 7. Focus global health research in areas of program evaluation and implementation science


 8. Develop global health organizational structures that cross institutional boundaries and include strong monitoring and evaluation

 9. Work collaboratively with other universities to implement international partnerships

 10. Develop a cadre of leaders in global health through sustainable partnerships



Holly Korschun

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