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The BMJ partners with WHO and UNICEF to launch special collection on global child health

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The BMJ partners with WHO and UNICEF to launch special collection on global child health

The BMJ partners with WHO and UNICEF to launch special collection on global child health

Collection will stimulate debate and help drive progress in achieving global child health goals

The BMJ in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are launching a special collection of articles that will explore how to achieve ambitious child health goals to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children across the world.

The collection shares findings from a review of implementation of two leading global child health strategies; examines current best practices; and considers future needs when rethinking global and national child health programmes.

The collection also aims to stimulate discussion and exchange between stakeholders at global, regional, and national levels, and provide a basis for policy and strategy changes.

“Great advances have been made in promoting child health and reducing child mortality over the past twenty years. Yet in 2016, an estimated 5.6 million children still died before their fifth birthday, mostly from readily preventable and treatable diseases,” say Marion Jacobs and Michael Merson in an article to launch the collection.

To address these issues, two global child health strategies were developed – Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) and integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) – which have now been adopted in over 100 countries.

In 2016, a strategic review examined the contributions of these strategies and set out five key challenges.

These include the need for adequate and coordinated funding, more attention on each country context, better integration of new evidence into policy and programmes, closer partner collaboration to support countries, and more accountability for child health, both internationally and nationally.

WHO and UNICEF have a special responsibility for global child health, and as such, have proposed a five point plan to address these challenges, with a focus on joint working to drive progress.

Jacobs and Merson welcome the proposed actions, which they say “clearly signal a renewed and much welcomed committment of UNICEF and WHO to child health.”

They acknowledge that such improvements in the scope and delivery of child health interventions “will not be easy to achieve, and will require new ways of thinking, planning, acting and collaborating amongst child health leaders at every level.”

Nevertheless, they call on the two organisations to provide “stronger global leadership to drive paradigm shifts making child health a matter of public concern, prioritising those most in need, and centering families, communities, and front-line service delivery workers.”

Today we know more than ever about how to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children, they write. “We await strong, intrepid action by global health leaders to translate this knowledge into action,” they conclude.

Dr Rajiv Bahl, Director ad interim, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization, says: “Access to high-quality essential health services is the cornerstone of Primary Health Care and Universal Health Coverage. WHO is committed to work with UNICEF to support countries to make it happen, especially mothers and children, and including the most vulnerable.”  

“It’s time we move on from treating diseases one by one, to caring for children in an integrated manner through contextualised and modernized IMCI”, says UNICEF Chief of Health Dr Stefan Peterson. “That’s where integrating efforts with WHO becomes doubly important”.

Read the article collection here: https://www.bmj.com/child-health