Policy statement outlines recommendations to improve understanding of pediatric global health issues

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement outlining recommendations to improve cultural competence and awareness of barriers to adequate health that affect children from a diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, both domestically and abroad.

2. Recommendations encourage improved trainings for pediatricians and trainees on a broad list of socioeconomic and cultural topics affecting pediatric health globally, as well as encourage providers work collaboratively to develop culturally competent, innovative strategies to address health disparities worldwide and to advocate for improved international health equity policies.

Statement Rundown: As rates of international travel, immigration, and refugee relocation increase, global health, traditionally thought of as isolated to low- and middle- income counties (LMICs), is increasingly becoming a domestic issue. While the vast majority of the world’s children live in LMICs, where child morbidity and mortality are particularly high, many children live in communities within the United States that are affected by similar health issues, including malnutrition, environmental health issues, lack of health care access, high levels of physical and emotional trauma, inadequate mental health care, and insufficient chronic disease prevention. The AAP is committed to improving the health of all children, locally and abroad, and recognizes that providing appropriate care to children from a diversity ethnic and cultural backgrounds necessitates a global health framework with an understanding of the socioeconomic determinants of health and their effects on various communities. The AAP issued recommendations to describe the role pediatricians play in global health, particularly those who completed their training before the widespread institution of global health curricula. Recommendations include the following:

  • Improving content and availability of global health continuing medical education (CME) courses for pediatricians and trainees, with topics ranging from immigrant and refugee health, global child health disparities, prevention and treatment of communicable diseases, ethics of short-term international medical missions and international research, etc.
  • Advocacy for government policies that seek to address socioeconomic determinants of health, safety from violence and trauma, and access to life-saving treatments locally and internationally
  • Culturally competent collaborations, short-term and long-term, between pediatricians and their international partners that seek to achieve shared goals while following best practice guidelines
  • Promoting reciprocal innovation whereby pediatricians use skills learned at home to improve health and care for children abroad, as well as skills learned abroad to improve care for pediatric patients at home.

Click to read the policy statement, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant reading: The State of the World’s Children 2016: A Fair Chance for Every Child

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