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No one will be left behind

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I recently took part in the 29th International Pediatric Association (IPA) Congress 2019 held in Panama. The International Pediatric Association (IPA) is an international organization that is currently made up of member societies from about 150 countries. Having been a pediatrician for over forty years, I am a bit embarrassed to say that this conference was the first time I had participated. By way of explanation, let me say that when I was young, I was busy enough taking part in conferences in Japan and other conferences that focused on my field of specialization both in Japan and abroad. I had the preconceived notion that IPA, as a congregation of pediatric societies worldwide, was a kind of festive gathering of representives from each country. Of course, I knew that the founder of CRN, Dr. Noboru Kobayashi, had served as chairman of IPA, and no doubt, this was related to Dr. Kobayashi's extensive personal and professional network on an international scale.

This time, I was asked to give a talk on learning disabilities at a session of the IPA conference to be held in Panama, a country very far from Japan.

As for Panama, I only knew that it was the country in Central America with the Panama Canal, but I learned that its capital, Panama City, is a large city with a population close to one million, and as a modern metropolis with tall skyscrapers, it resembles Singapore or Hong Kong.

I did not have any grand expectations, but the conference program turned out to be wonderful. Ordinarily, conferences in Japan on pediatrics or any of its specialized fields mainly deal with treating or preventing the various childhood illnesses. However, the IPA conference featured many sessions that emphatically proclaimed the mission of pediatricians. This "mission" refers to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, of the United Nations, which are goals in 17 areas that will enable people all over the world to lead happy lives from today into the future. "Sustainable," is not such a familiar term in Japanese, so it was also a bit unclear to me at first, but it was a clear statement that the goals were not temporary and expressed the intention to make ongoing efforts into the future.

Medical care is only one of these 17 areas, and what was expressed was a clear sense that IPA's mission not only includes medical care, but also extends to other areas that are fundamental to actively improving the quality of life of children (education, environment, peace, clean water supply, poverty, hunger). As is characteristic of IPA, which includes a number of low- and middle-developed countries, and works closely with the United Nations, most of presentations concerned poverty and malnutrition in certain regions and conflicts and epidemics that result in child mortality.

As I listened to the various lectures and presentations, I realized something. The issues taken up by IPA and those that concern CRN overlap to a large extent. Children and media, developmental disorders, preventing child abuse, maternal and child health and other topics addressed at the conference are issues that we at CRN also consider to be very important. I began to understand why Dr. Kobayashi, who had served as chair of the IPA, established CRN.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocated by the United Nations are supported by a very fine slogan: No one will be left behind. I returned to Japan tired after the long trip to Panama which took more than 20 hours one way, but it was a fulfilling experience. CRN would also like to express its support for the slogan "No child will be behind."

Profile

sakakihara_2013.jpg Yoichi Sakakihara
M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Ochanomizu University; Director of Child Research Net, Executive Advisor of Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute (BERD), President of Japanese Society of Child Science. Specializes in pediatric neurology, developmental neurology, in particular, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders, and neuroscience. Born in 1951. Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo in 1976 and taught as an instructor in the Department of the Pediatrics before working with Ochanomizu University.
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