Held jointly with the 5th National Congress of the Turkish Society for Social Pediatrics, this international congress of Eurasian social pediatricians represented a significant initial step in the formation of an active regional social pediatric group encompassing Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, and Central Asian and Indian sub-continent countries.
The Congress opened with a moving video message from one of the founders of Turkish social paediatrics, Professor Olcay Neyzi on the history of social pediatrics in Turkey which complemented my presentation on the history of social pediatrics globally. Professor Sarah Blunden from Adelaide, Australia, gave a fascinating presentation on infant sleep interventions and this was complemented by a later presentation by Professor Perran Boran on her work on early childhood sleep problems. Peripartum depression and infant brain development was addressed by Professor Atif Rahman from Liverpool, UK whose research focuses on prevention and management of perinatal depression particularly in low and middle income countries including Pakistan. His innovative community-based approach has been supported and promoted by WHO as an intervention entitled “Thinking Healthy Programme”. Translation of the manual of this programme into Turkish was realized by Professor Perran Boran and the manual was published by the Marmara University Press, listed as the only translation on the official website of WHO. A two-day precongress workshop on training of the trainers on Thinking Healthy Programme was held by Prof Rahman and Najia Atıf.
An innovative community-based approach also underpinned Professor Mitch Blair’s presentation on a project aimed at improving early childhood care in North West London. Professor Blair emphasized the need of educating parents on basic health care principles of the children.
Immunization is among the most important public health preventive programmes. A Congress session was devoted to addressing key issues in the delivery of these programmes. Professor Gulbin Gokcay discussed the challenges to successful programmes. Breast feeding provides protection through infancy and has benefits for health across the life course. Dr Rukhsana Haider presented her experience of promoting exclusive breastfeeding among working mothers in Bangladesh and Dr Nalan Karabayir from Turkey showed how breastfeeding can be promoted even infants with significant illness problems.
In a session on early childhood development, Professor KadriyeYurdakok discussed the epigenetic effects of child abuse and neglect and Professor Gonca Yilmaz addressed global perspective on early childhood interventions with particular reference to the Nurturing Framework adopted by WHO & UNICEF.
Young researchers from the thriving Turkish social pediatric academic units were given the opportunity to present their projects in research counselling sessions in which advice on methodology and publication was offered.
In addition to the excellent scientific and social programme, the Congress ethical sponsorship policy was notable. Exhibitors were companies marketing products of proven value to the health of child populations. The success of this policy was proof that ethical sponsorship is a viable option for pediatric conferences.