October 23, 2016

Pediatricians are Change Agents in “Interesting Times”

Written by Baby Science Live Coverage Team

Adult and child drawing

“May you always live in interesting times.”

Invoking this proverb, Dr. Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opened the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco. At the largest gathering for pediatrics professionals in North America, Dr. Dreyer addressed a crowded hall of professionals from across America and around the world.

Under Dr. Dreyer, the AAP has set the 2016-2017 Strategic Agenda, focusing on a single, crosscutting purpose—end child poverty. As the leading noncommunicable disease, poverty is a cycle that keeps children and whole communities from living their lives to the fullest potential. And children are the largest popular living in poverty today in America. In the 2016 report, Poverty and Child Health in the United States, the AAP reaffirmed their commitment to meeting the physical, mental, social and environmental health needs of children, knowing that lifting children out of poverty takes the actions of many working together. Dr. Dreyer spoke with pride of the AAP members and committees, who are taking action on the social determinants driving health outcomes for children, going beyond a check up to caring holistically for a family. The power of the AAP lies in each pediatrics professional taking action for all children, Dr Dreyer stressed, now more than ever given the challenges facing the communities we serve.

Today, we could not live in more interesting of times. Issues of migration, gun violence, nutrition and chronic disease are living, breathing realities in the lives of children and communities we live to help everyday. If not now, then when, Dr. Dreyer urged, for the role of the pediatrician to make a change in the lives of whole communities. These “interesting times,” where challenges abound also present new science and solutions, emerging and evolving to offer a call to action to the pediatrics community. The AAP is setting the example of where and how pediatrics professionals can create meaningful impact in addressing child poverty and health.

Two themes throughout the last year lend themselves well to new opportunities for pediatricians to respond to these “interesting times:”

  1. Leaving a strong global footprint. Through initiatives like Helping Babies Breathe and global immunization campaigns, AAP is committed to ensuring good health for children beyond US borders. Recent initiatives have brought about training, guidelines and capacity building for physicians and care givers to help children in crisis from microcephaly in Brazil to children of trauma in Turkey, Lebanon and Syria.
  2. Keeping children at the center of the agenda. No matter who takes the White House in November, AAP is ensuring the health and well being of children, families and communities is at the heart of their agenda. This September, the AAP released the Blueprint for Children: How the Next President Can Build a Foundation for a Healthy Future, a guide to promote healthy children, support secure families, build strong communities, and ensure that the United States is a leading nation for children. The AAP works across government to make sure the best policies are put into action to support children and pediatricians.

Every child, everywhere, plays, dreams and imagines their future full of health, happiness and adventure.  And that is a dream Dr. Dreyer wishes and works to see made possible for all children. As pediatricians, we are the trusted advisors, caretakers and dream-makers for every child in our care. As Dr. Dreyer closed the plenary, he spoke to the children in the hall reminding them, “You are the hero of your own adventure and you can write your story any way you dream it. It’s our job as pediatricians to help you achieve that awesome quest.”