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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 Team Bhutta
Meet the members of Dr. Zulfiqar A Bhutta’s team: (back row): Pravheen Thurairajah, Steven Ma, Bianca Carducci, Marianne Stefopulos, Grace Kapustianyk, Christina Oh, Shailja Shah, Fahad Siddiqui, Sarah Meteke, Josh de Lima, Nancy Dale, Tyler Vaivada (middle row): Mariella Munyuzangabo, Anushka Ataullahjan, Aviva Rappaport, Michelle Gaffey, Susan Campisi, Jo-Anna Baxter, Danielle D’Annunzio (front row): Mahdis Kamali, Nadia Akseer, Renee Sharma, Zulfiqar A Bhutta, Emily Keats, Daina Als, Grace Belaynah, Reena Jain, Amira Khan. Not pictured: Amruta Radhakrishnan.

 

Determined to make an impact in global child health, Dr. Zulfiqar A Bhutta, born and raised in Pakistan, decided to shift his home base to Canada in 2013 after being recruited to join The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) to share his expertise in maternal, newborn and child health at the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health (C-GCH). Now serving as Inaugural Robert Harding Chair in Global Child Health at SickKids and Co-Director of C-GCH, Bhutta is recognized as one of the world’s most influential people in the area of maternal, newborn and child health.

Holding joint appointments at SickKids and at the Aga Khan University, where he is the Founding Director of the Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Bhutta and his teams focus their research on generating and synthesizing global evidence on interventions, programs and policies to improve maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition, especially in low- and middle-income countries.  Areas of current focus include newborn survival, child growth, early child development, neglected tropical diseases, and intervention implementation in humanitarian settings, particularly conflict.  The development of open-access online education materials, such as the SickKids Public Health Nutrition Course, is another area of focus.

Together with his teams, Bhutta has published eight books, more than 80 book chapters and nearly 800 indexed publications, many in the world’s most prestigious journals such as The Lancet. He also serves as an advocate and an active leader in numerous global health advisory committees and networks, a few examples including the role of Co-Chair of the Maternal and Child Health oversight committee of World Health Organization (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO),  Co-Chair of the Global Countdown for 2015 and 2030 Initiatives from 2006-2017, a member of the United Nations Health and Human Rights committee, executive member of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) committee, President of the International Pediatric Association (IPA) from 2016-2019 and Chair of The Coalition of Centres in Global Child Health (The Coalition) with its secretariat based at SickKids.

With a team of more than 25 staff and students under his wing, Bhutta is a leader and a mentor helping to pave the way for future leaders of global child health.

Meet some of the members of Bhutta’s team, contributing to SickKids’ and Canada’s leadership to address global child health priorities and challenges.

“The health of children should be a global health priority as the health of a child really sets the stage for the rest of their life. Improving child health is the first step to reducing the gaps in inequities in countries around the world. Canadian students and youth should care about Global Child Health because it is relevant and important to understand the implications of a poor start to life as an unhealthy child, and the consequences that could manifest from them,” says Grace Kapustianyk, a Research Summer Student from the University of Toronto. Grace is working on developing content for an online Global Child Health course and undertaking a systematic review looking at childhood stunting.

“As a Canadian, I am so grateful that I had equal access to quality, free education. Education is a key component to empowering young and adolescent girls with knowledge, skills, and confidence – it can importantly improve their ability to make healthy decisions,”says Jo-Anna Baxter, PhD Candidate from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. Jo-Anna's dissertation study focuses on providing life skills education and improving the nutritional status of adolescent girls and young women in rural Pakistan.

“Canada has demonstrated incredible capacity for research and innovation. Through working with partners in low and middle-income countries, Canada can help build capacity in local institutions, and contribute to generating an evidence base that can inform policy changes,” says Anushka Ataullahjan, a Research Analyst at C-GCH. Anushka is currently working on the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health & Nutrition (RMNCAH&N) in Conflict Settings project where she seeks to understand how to best deliver RMNCAH&N interventions to conflict-affected and displaced populations.

“Canada’s role in global child health in the next 150 years could be to provide support for evidence-based health surveillance in countries to monitor trends in public health, especially those related to maternal and child health.  As well, continue to support capacity building programs to strengthen national health systems and provide resources and knowledge to support interventions addressing child health worldwide to ensure no child is dying from preventable causes,” says Marianne Stefopulos, a Research Summer Student from the University of Toronto. Marianne is working on developing content for an online Global Child Health course and undertaking a systematic review looking at childhood stunting.

 “Canada can be a leader in improving the lives of women and children by investing in their education across the globe so that they can take better care of themselves in any given situation no matter how impoverished the circumstances may be. In the next 150 years I see Canada devising technologies, leading initiatives that enable the most deprived children in the world to be as healthy as any average Canadian child,” says Fahad Siddiqui, a Research Analyst at C-GCH. Fahad is currently collating evidence to identify effective maternal and child health interventions implemented in conflict settings and highlight the knowledge gaps.

“Through the Centre’s collaborations with funders, dissemination of our research, and our presence in global discussions, we are a voice for change so that the most vulnerable populations can be reached. In the next 150 years I see Canada continuing to be an educator, to develop capacity in new research and service delivery. We can continue to improve the lives of women and children around the world by being partners and supporters of countries around the globe, working with them to build capacity, and sharing our resources to empower their health systems,” says Danielle D’Annunzio, Program Coordinator at C-GCH. Danielle helps support a number of projects under Dr. Bhutta’s portfolio.

“Canada's reputation as a diplomatic and politically neutral force can be used strategically to maintain focus on global health priorities in international discussions. At the forefront of this agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals, where Canada's role could be leveraged to one of accountability and oversight of women's and children's health in low-resource settings,” says Nadia Akseer, an Epidemiologist-Biostatistician at the C-GCH. Nadia functions as technical and project lead on a range of different initiatives focused on maternal and child health and nutrition in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Africa.

"Canadians should care about Global Child Health because children are our future. Here at the Centre, we believe that a children deserve to be provided with equal opportunities, no matter where they are born. We must nurture and protect them because healthier children means a better world. Improving the lives of children everywhere will inevitably impact all of us in a positive way," says Emily Keats, a Research Associate at C-GCH.  Emily's research focuses on maternal, child and adolescent health and nutrition in low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC). 

Learn more about some of Dr. Bhutta’s work and accomplishments:

A New Approach to the Polio End Game: SickKids’ researchers contribute to first-ever cluster randomized vaccination trial in a conflict setting

SickKids expert contributes to major global reports on adolescent health

SickKids contributes to major international reports supporting the United Nations’ new global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health

SickKids researcher leads Lancet Series analysis to save newborn lives and receives WHO award for contribution to global family health

Emerging SickKids Global Child Health program contributes to major Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition

Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta receives The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) 2016 Prize in Medical Sciences

Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta receives Geneva Forum for Health Award for contributions to global maternal and child health