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Global health speaker series talk calls for improved drug therapy for children in low-and-middle income countries

Dr. Stuart MacLeod delivering his speaker series talk

Dr. Stuart MacLeod, professor emeritus, Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, delivers a Global Health Speaker Series lecture to McMaster's global health community.

November 23, 2018

Improved, well validated use of vaccines and drug therapy offers the single greatest potential for child survival and health outcomes in low-and-middle income countries. Yet treatments are still initiated without appropriate research validation – and the training of essential research and clinical personnel has been too slow. This week, Dr. Stuart MacLeod, professor emeritus, Pediatrics, at the University of British Columbia and former dean of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences, addressed these issues in a Global Health Speaker Series talk he delivered to the global health community at McMaster.

MacLeod’s presentation, titled ‘New Approaches to Improved Therapeutic Choices for Children: A Global Health Priority’, called for action. “These alarming trends cry out for urgent concerted action in research and clinical practice through the efforts of an international, multidisciplinary coalition,” said MacLeod, who described his recent experiences aimed at improving global pediatric clinical pharmacology and pharmacy in China, Africa and Europe.

MacLeod addressed the fact that optimal therapeutic choices among medicines for children are critical and that the challenge becomes increasingly important as the world’s population of children under age 14 approaches two billion, with distribution shifting dramatically to low-and-middle income countries, especially in Africa.

Given that significant progress has been made in the past decade, MacLeod noted that conditions are now ideal for global leadership from the World Health Organization, as well as international foundations focused on child health, and national governments.

MacLeod gave examples of micro-research initiatives based on philosophies of ‘micro-financing’ as a potentially promising way to engage public interest and strengthen domestic capacity of medical research in low-resource settings. Initiatives like this have seen success in Eastern Africa.

MacLeod also discussed pediatric health care as becoming increasingly important in China, citing China's recent collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) in scaling up health resources for children. He drew on the example of the new Children's Hospital in Hangzhou, affiliated with Zhejiang University School of Medicine.