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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.

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin- GCH teams celebrate Canada150
Meet members of Dr. Stanley Zlotkin’s team: (left to right) Vanessa Pike, Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Chief of C-GCH, Claudia Schauer, Robyn Nicholson. Not pictured: Caitlyn Hui

Challenged by UNICEF to improve the micronutrient nutrition of malnourished children living in low-resource settings around the world, Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Chief of C-GCH, invented ‘Sprinkles’ also known as micronutrient powders (MNPs); single-dose packets of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin A and zinc, in powder form, in the SickKids kitchen in 1998. MNPs can be sprinkled into any meal, a process known as home fortification, to add essential micronutrients to food. Little did Zlotkin know at the time that his invention of MNPs would become a world-recognized solution for treating micronutrient malnutrition in children, particularly in hard- to-reach and vulnerable populations.

With the success of many clinical trials of the use of MNPs in Nicaragua and Ghana, Zlotkin, together with Claudia Schauer, Program Manager at C-GCH, and their team, implemented the first ‘Sprinkles’ program in Mongolia in 2001 in partnership with World Vision Canada. 

In 2009, the Home Fortification Technical Advisory Group (HF-TAG) was formed with a common goal to improve nutrition for health of women and children through effective home fortification interventions. The secretariat for HF-TAG is currently held at C-GCH.

In 2011, the first WHO guideline on micronutrient powder was developed as the standard of use for multiple micronutrient powders in home fortification of foods consumed by infants and young children 6-23 months of age.

Today, through 20 years of research, ‘Sprinkles’ has now been manufactured and distributed in over 76 countries, improving nutrition for over 10 million children. Students like Vanessa and Caitlyn, working with Dr. Zlotkin’s team at C-GCH, are helping to carry on the legacy of the work and become future leaders in global child health.

Read what Zlotkin and his team think about Canada’s current and future role in global child health.

 “Poverty is at the root of so many barriers to women and child health worldwide; and yet, its elimination cannot be achieved without improving their health and well-being. Canada can lead in this process through actively seeking and nourishing collaboration with in-country partners and global researchers. Such partnerships are powerful and effective in advancing the health of women and children worldwide,” says Vanessa Pike, a Research Assistant at C-GCH. Vanessa is performing a literature review looking at the risk of excess micronutrient intake.

“Over the past several years, Canada has been one of the largest bilateral donors and contributors to nutrition programs in low income countries.  As a leader, Canada must continue this tradition in investing in the nutrition of women and children, now more than ever. The international community has set new targets to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030, a goal that Canada can help countries achieve by investing in research that identifies the best ways to implement nutrition interventions that are able to reach the largest and most vulnerable populations—how countries prioritize, plan, finance, and implement nutrition programs on the ground is key to ending malnutrition,” says Claudia Schauer, Program Manager at C-GCH and Secretariat Coordinator of HF-TAG.

“Looking to the future, Canada can expand its efforts to improve the lives of women and children by continuing to foster a supportive community within the country for training new leaders. By inspiring youth to become more involved in global child health, Canada will play a key role in developing the next generation of leadership to address the needs of women and children,” says Caitlyn Hui, a Summer Research Student from the University of Toronto. Caitlyn Hui is working on building, evaluating and implementing a novel curriculum for the C-GCH Fellowship Program.

“Canada is currently a leader in both the provision of health care and research to improve the lives of Canadians. We have great universities, infrastructure and the will to continue to perform the kind of basic, translational and population-based research that will change the course of people’s health over the next 150 years. It is impossible to predict exactly what these changes will look like, but it is my great hope that our focus on personalized medicine will be translated to be an obvious component of public health - available to all people everywhere,” says Stanley Zlotkin, Chief of C-GCH and inventor of MNPs.

 

Learn more about Dr. Stanley Zlotkin’s work in MNPs:

Bringing Micronutrients to Scale in Rwanda

Toronto doctor fights malnutrition- with tiny packets of powder

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin receives award for career achievement in evidence translation