August 25, 2016

Taking Action for Every Child, Everywhere

Written by Agalby Perez, Johnson & Johnson

Hugs and laughter between old friends, tough conversations on latest research, inspiring talks on the way forward: this was scene last week in Vancouver at the 2016 International Congress of Pediatrics (ICP) hosted by our partner, the International Pediatrics Association. I had the unique opportunity to meet and learn from some of the unsung heroes of our communities — our pediatricians.

As a passionate advocate for children, my work at Johnson & Johnson allows me to see the research behind what’s best for baby as well as the stories of mothers and children who have benefited from that research. Whether it’s a nightly ritual that helps baby sleep uninterrupted, or mom strengthening her bond with baby through a massage and loving gaze, science leads to support for mom and baby, which in turn leads to stories of happy, healthy, thriving families.

This all came to life for me at the ICP opening plenary. Congress President Dr. Doug McMillian opened the ICP by calling on attendees to not only participate and network during the Congress but to learn from each other. Surrounded by thousands of pediatricians, nurses, midwives, health care providers and others, I realized that all us in that hall had something to learn from not only the speakers, but also each other.

As a member of the Johnson’s Global Professional Group I have the opportunity to engage with scientific evidence and how practitioners make strides in child health everyday. At ICP, I saw science suddenly coming to life. In our Virtual Reality demonstration, I watched how visitors revisited their first days of life through the eyes of a baby being cared by their mother stimulating all their senses. We know that by engaging with multisensory enhancement— what baby feels, sees, hears, and smells—we can support the crucial early days of baby brain development. Actions as simple as singing a song, giving a massage or using a certain scent, can have life-long impact on children and adults. Making parents aware of how they change their baby’s life during their daily routines, should become our mission in the healthcare field.

Now as the 28th Congress has come to a close, we cannot let subside that spirit of learning, of sharing, and of pushing each other to find new and evidence-driven approaches to facilitate the health of mom and baby. The new incoming IPA President, Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, urged all of us to rise to the occasion for children in a time when they need us more than ever. Each of us has the power to create positive change in the world for children, and pediatricians are the front line messengers who will help ensure the latest “baby science” is shared with families.

I’d like to set a challenge for us all. And it is a challenge that we all are capable to take on if we work together as we did during IPA. I challenge each of us to take three things we learned at IPA and integrate them into our everyday work as advocates, providers, caregivers, and researchers. Whether it was the effects of climate, causal factors of child obesity, or urgency in adolescent care, the evidence has defined our challenges, now it’s up to us to change them!

And we can do this together. Our exchange of ideas, expertise and support does not end at IPA. Each of us has a role of play in shaping and supporting the work our local pediatric associations. Here in own communities is where we can live the change we need to create. I encourage you to stay in touch not only via these networks, but via the Crowd 360 Baby Science Hub page. This page is dedicated to continuing and growing the conversation in pediatrics with a particular emphasis on newborn care. Share your ideas, your studies, your passion with us here to see the spirit of diversity and community live on as we work together to see every child, everywhere given the chance to live a healthy, safe, and happy life.