Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsGLORIA NYAMUNGU: Hello, my name is Gloria Nyamungu. And I'm a master's student doing nutrition for global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where I also serve as a student liaison for the march child theme. In the last four weeks, we have taken a journey through the life cycle, starting with adolescents, going to reproductive and maternal health, and then last week, visiting newborn health. This week, we arrive at the child. But before we go any further, I think it will be worth defining what we actually mean by child. This might seem like an obvious question, but it really depends on your perspective and framing.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsThe United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child defines child as being below the age of 18 years, and recognises that childhood is a separate space from adulthood, and that what is appropriate for an adult may not be suitable for a child. Since the transition from child to adult is, of course, gradual, details of age cutoffs vary according to purpose and contexts. Different countries, for example, may set different legal criteria. And even in these countries, these may differ to those used to decide on admission to a paediatric or adult hospital ward. In terms of global health, much of child health work has focused on children under the age of five.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 secondsBecause that's where most of the morbidity and mortality in childhood occurs. While of course important, a side effect of this emphasis is that data on older children aged five and above is limited. Yet this period also matters for development and has its own age specific risks, including death from injuries, chronic diseases, and malignancies. More work is needed on older children in the future, but putting that aside, I'm going to now talk about what our learning objectives are for this week. The first objective will be to examine the progress that has been made for child survival and see where, when, and why child deaths still occur.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 secondsWe will then try to understand how this progress has been made, particularly for infectious diseases. We'll then take a step back and look at the remaining challenges, including child growth and development. And why we need to go beyond the health sector in tackling some of these remaining challenges. Our fourth objective will be to gain an insight into some of the innovative science that may form new interventions and appreciate the risks and opportunities for accelerated progress for child survival in this sustainable development goal era. We will wrap up the course by projecting forward and thinking together about what is the future of child health. Throughout this week, we ask that you think critically.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 secondsConsider what you would do differently if you're investing in child health and well-being. We hope that you enjoy the week and share your views and experiences as we learn together. Thank you.

Welcome to Week 5

Welcome to Week 5. Having passed through adolescent health, reproductive health, maternal health, and newborns and stillbirths, we now arrive at the child. First, what do we mean by “child”? The United Nations defines a child as being below the age of 18 years and recognises that childhood is a separate space to adulthood. Historically the global child agenda has focused on the under 5 age group, as this is where the largest burden of mortality has been. A side effect of this is that for older children data is missing, but we do know these older children have specific threats to their health such as chronic disease, injury and malignancy.

What will we learn?

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Describe the progress that has been made for child survival
  • Outline how this progress has been made
  • Describe the remaining challenges for child health including child growth and development
  • Explain how innovative science may form new interventions to help accelerate progress in child survival

Structure and content

We’ll begin the week by examining the data on child mortality to learn about the main causes of death in childhood. We will explore where progress has been fastest, why and how, in addition to where it has been slower. We will then turn to HIV and other infectious diseases, looking at the specific interventions responsible for swift reductions in the number of deaths caused by these conditions.

Our next activities will take us beyond mortality and surviving childhood to discuss why it is so important to focus on growth, nutrition and development. We will learn about vaccine confidence and efforts to increase it. We’ll hear about some exciting discovery science and the effect of behavioural change of hygiene practices before rounding off the week with considering what is next for child health in the Sustainable Development Goal era, as we aim to reduce under 5 mortality to less than 25 per 1,000 live births in every country by 2030.

We hope you find this week’s learning valuable and look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

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This video is from the free online course:

Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine