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Centre for Global Child Health

Global Child Health teams at SickKids celebrate Canada 150+

SickKids is proud to be a part of Canada’s contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of women, children and adolescents around the world. As one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health, SickKids is in a unique position to make an impact on a global level.

For Canada 150+, SickKids is looking back at the unique moments that have shaped SickKids and the nation. The SickKids Centre for Global Child Health (C-GCH) is proud to be a part of this history. Read on to learn about the past, present and future leaders working in Canada to improve the lives of children and their families in resource-poor environments around the world.  

Photo of Dr. Robert Bandsma's research team
Meet members of Dr. Robert Bandsma's team: (left to right) Bijun Wen, Linnea Weise, Celine Bourdon, Katrina Sajewycz, Nathan Swain, Matilda Arvidsson, Allison Daniel, and Dr. Robert Bandsma, Principal Investigator at C-GCH. Not pictured: Karim Magharby

 

After sparking an interest in global child health during part of his residency in the Caribbean, Bandsma, originally from The Netherlands, joined SickKids to focus his research on understanding how malnutrition can cause metabolic disturbances, and the long-term health effects in malnourished children.

Bandsma and his team run a wet-lab in the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at SickKids, which uses mouse-models to study the relationship between metabolic processes of liver and intestinal functions, and malnutrition. The work has been a starting point to understand what happens in young children's bodies that are severely malnourished, which has extended their research to low-resource settings. The team is now looking at interventions to improve severely malnourished children in Malawi, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Bandsma wants to share his expansive work with the next generation of global health leaders, so a number of students have joined his team. They share some of their thoughts on global child health and Canada's contributions for Canada 150+.

“Improving global child health is helping to direct the overall future of human kind, to guard its beautiful diversity and bring lasting hope to all of us,” says Linnea Weise, a Research Intern from the University of Groningen, Netherlands. Linnea is working with mouse-models to study the metabolic effects of malnutrition on the liver.

“Canada can be a leader in improving the lives of women and children around the world by continuing to invest in research aimed to improve upon our knowledge base, by recognizing the importance of collaboration, and by taking the initiative to translate our expertise in such a way to improve patient care,” says Katrina Sajewycz, a Research Summer Student from the University of Guelph. Katrina is studying intestinal dysfunction in mouse-models of severe acute malnutrition.

“We are a global community and the global economical growth needs to be promoting equality within and between nations, otherwise it leads to mass migration and brain drain from those countries in most need of growth,” says Matilda Arvidsson, a Research Student from the University of Groningen, Netherlands. Matilda's research looks at the conditions and processes of liver dysfunction in malnourished mice.

“Canada has strong education and healthcare systems, and with its knowledge and tools it can play a major role to have an impact on child health globally and improve the trajectory of the world's future,” says Allison Daniel, a Graduate Student from the University of Toronto. Allison is working on the Kusamala Program, a hospital-based intervention aimed at improving outcomes of children with severe acute malnutrition in Malawi.  

"We are all part of this global community. Local is global and the child next door in the resource-poor communities in Toronto and certain parts of Canada deserves as many chances for a fulfilling and healthy life as a child in Europe or a remote village in Burkina Faso. Physical distance does not remove us from our responsibility to care for others who are in need for help," says Dr. Robert Bandsma, Principal Investigator at C-GCH.

 

Learn more about some of the team’s recent work:

SickKids-led study indicates malnutrition in children may lead to severe impairments in liver function