Rare pediatric course aims to curb infant mortality 25 Jan 2013
Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in conjunction with the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) plans to increase Kenya’s Pediatric Endocrinology experts available by 2013, in a drive to reduce infant mortality.
Mortality deaths of children under five in Kenya was last reported at 84.70 deaths out of 1,000 in 2010, said a 2012 World Bank report. To reduce the death rates further, the duo will be conducting its seventh 18 month fellowship program aimed at increasing specialists of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes.
Pediatric endocrinologist skills are rare in Africa with Botswana employing its first endocrinologist in 2011. Thus, according to the Hospital, the goal of the program is to provide pediatricians with in-depth knowledge and skill to diagnose and manage childhood diabetes and other endocrine disorders. It would combine onsite and home country training to facilitate establishment of comprehensive Pediatric Endocrinology and optimal Diabetes Centers in each Eastern and Southern African country.
Pediatric Endocrinology is a medical specialty that focuses on hormonal disorders in children. These include diabetes mellitus, abnormal or impaired growth, thyroid disorders, bone problems, delayed or early sexual maturation and the disorder of sex differentiation (gender ambiguity) to mention a few.
To qualify as a pediatric endocrinologist, one needs to train as a general doctor in medicine and surgery. This is followed by training as a specialist pediatrician and finally sub-specialty study in pediatric endocrinology.
The training program, according to Chief Executive Officer Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital Gordon Odundo, seeks to reduce the gap of people especially in rural areas with access to medical care.
“We estimate that 40 per cent of the 500 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa are below 16 years; 4.5 per cent of every 100,000 of these children develop diabetes every year. This works out to 22,500 children per year. Most of them die before diagnosis,” he said
In a formal announcement of the program, Odundo said, “approximately 2,000 children are on follow-up for endocrine disorders at various health facilities including Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital. Through this training program, we hope to increase the experts locally available to deal with such cases to reduce infant mortality in Kenya.”
The programme whose application deadline is 31st January 2013, will include six months of onsite training in Nairobi, nine months of home institution practice and a three months onsite consolidation. The World Diabetes Foundation Endocrinology Fellowship grant which is a key stakeholder in the programme has so far trained over 35 Paediatricians.
Moreover, World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) would be awarding seven scholarships for each intake of certified Paediatricians from the public sector. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, accommodation and international air tickets. The program is tutored by both local and international faculty; some of Europe’s experienced Paediatric endocrinologists will be among the teaching staff.
The Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital has received numerous applications from students across Eastern and Southern African countries, who are willing to participate in these courses, but cannot afford the combined cost of the fees and upkeep. Hence, the Hospital offers scholarships to these students, and facilitate the training.
“This is because professional development is critical in keeping up with advances in medicine and with changes in the delivery of health care,” said Odundo.
According to Odundo the Hospital aims to focus on helping medical workers develop, maintain and increase their knowledge, skills and professional performance in the provision of services for patients, the public and the profession. The Pediatric Endocrinology training will commence on 1st July 2013 and end in December 2014.