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Reaching Across the Globe
CHRCO Launches New Children’s Global Health Initiative (CGHI)

“Over 10,000,000 children under the age of 5 years die of diarrhea, lung infections, malaria and measles each year, many complicated by malnutrition, and all are preventable."

CHORI proudly announces a new Children’s Global Health Initiative (CGHI) underway at Children’s Hospital Oakland and CHORI combined (Children’s Hospital Research Center Oakland). Established recently, the initiative’s mission is to relieve suffering and meet the needs of children worldwide in an environment of trust, compassion and care.

“Our children are the most vulnerable population on the planet and represent the greatest challenge to improving health and decreasing mortality,” explains CHORI senior scientist and director of CGHI, Deborah Dean, MPH, MD.

With improving children’s lives already a focal point at CHORI, the CGHI will allow CHORI to have an even greater global impact by fostering international partnerships, building infrastructure and capacity abroad, and establishing a clearinghouse of research and resources that address global health issues.

“We can translate and transfer our medical and research know-how here at Children’s to emerging infrastructures in developing countries by training in-country health care workers, providing technology transfer to enhance prevention and treatment, and developing research programs that address the diseases they encounter every day,” explains Dr. Dean.

While the initiative looks to expand CHORI’s global outreach in children’s health, it also capitalizes on already ongoing international collaborations in over 20 different countries. Dr. Dean’s work in Ecuador is just one such example, in which she has partnered with the Universidad Central del Ecuador, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador and local health agencies in order design appropriate interventions in Ecuador to combat their high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as Chlamydia.

“Through appropriate technology transfer, university and local clinicians can now set up their own simple epidemiologic studies,” says Dr. Dean.
“When we first started working in Ecuador, there were not even the tools to diagnose chla-mydiae or other common STDs. We made im-provements to their existing microlabs, provided basic equipment, and trained folks, and now we are partnering at the university level to ensure that knowledge is held locally.”
Dr. Dean has also teamed up with CHORI scientist Janet King, PhD, in order to improve pregnancy outcomes in women living in rural Vietnam, where high rates of childhood malnutrition,infection and mortality are the norm in rural communities.

As Dr. King explains, “In Vietnam, even while pregnant, women are expected to work hard both at home and in the fields. At the same time, they receive the least amount of food in the family, leading to underweight babies who are more vulnerable to infection.”

By collaborating with the Vietnamese government, CHORI will be able to help provide women with locally-produced, simple, high-protein meals and follow them for three years to determine the long term health impact on both mother and child.

“We think better nutrition throughout pregnancy will not only positively affect fetal growth, but will reduce risk of infection in mothers and their children throughout their first year of life,” Dr. Dean says. “We know that nutrition and infection are related from animal studies, but no one has ever never looked at this relationship among pregnant women before.”
These are but two examples of the ways in which CHORI aims to improve children’s health and well-being across the globe with CGHI. Other international partnerships under the initiative include red blood cell diseases, vaccine development, genetics neonatology, cardiology, orthopedics and radiology exchange and research programs, to mention just a few.

As part of the CGHI, however, all of these projects hold the same goal of empowering the international community with the tools it needs to improve children’s health on a global scale by providing hands-on training and research, facilitating technology transfer, easy access to information, and by creating partnerships with hospitals, universities, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

“The world has gotten smaller,” says Dr. Dean. “There are people in the United States from all over the world—the Bay Area is a prime example. What we learn from medical research here at Children’s, we can bring to other countries, and what we learn in other countries, we can bring back here.”

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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