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Global Child Health

It’s a Small World After All – Global Child Health leads to a Better World, Winter 2014

At SickKids our vision is Healthier Children. A Better World. Not only do our research activities benefit the health outcomes of children here in Toronto, but also around the world. Our Global Child Health program champions child-focused issues of global importance and works with program partners (including governments and UN agencies) to advocate for, and assist with, the transfer of knowledge leading to the implementation of interventions of proven value to children everywhere.

We know that the most dangerous time for mother and baby is during labour and the very first days of life of the child. The period from conception to birth is also a critical time in the development of a child. Providing solutions to help ensure healthy birth, growth and development is particularly critical in lesser developed countries with high infant mortality. One of the most significant factors for child health and development is nutrition.

Dr. Daniel Roth and colleagues at SickKids and University of Toronto are partnering with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, to study the effect of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy on growth of the baby. Their research may lead to the development of novel approaches and therapeutics to address an important issue in global child health.

Iron deficiency is not a problem among children in developed countries. While Canadian children consume foods that have been enriched with iron and other vitamins and nutrients in factories, children in the developing world eat food that hasn’t been fortified. About 14 years ago, Dr. Stanley Zlotkin was challenged by UNICEF to come up with a solution to combat iron deficiency, a nutritional problem affecting millions of children worldwide. His solution, Sprinkles, is an innovation in home fortification, addressing vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This unique delivery system provides micronutrients to vulnerable populations by enabling families to fortify many different semi-solid foods in the home.

Childhood deaths from diarrhea and pneumonia alone cause more than one quarter of child deaths worldwide. According to The Lancet series targeting just 15 countries could eliminate up to 75 per cent of these child deaths. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta and colleagues at SickKids and around the world are working to develop a strategy to eliminate diarrhea deaths within a generation and also substantially reduce pneumonia burden and deaths; the key is implementation and a focus on reaching the poor.

Our panelists will discuss the health and nutritional challenges facing the world’s children and will share how both research efforts and development and relief work address some these problems head on.


  • Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta , Co-Director of Research, Global Child Health, Robert Harding Chair in Global Child Health, Global Child Health, SickKids; Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto  
  • Dr. Daniel Roth, Staff Physician, Paediatric Medicine, Clinician-Scientist, Division of Paediatric Medicine, Department of Paediatrics Scientist-Track Investigator, SickKids; Assistant Professor, Departments of Paediatrics, Nutritional Sciences, Associate Member, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Chief, Global Child Health, Senior Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences, SickKids; Professor, Departments of Nutritional Sciences & Paediatrics, University of Toronto
  • Senior Health & Nutrition Advisor, Save the Children Canada