Canadians imagine a better future for children, youth, and families. A multidimensional future where all children have the basics of life, they have accessible mental and physical healthcare services, they feel loved and have a deep sense of belonging, they experience racial and gender equity, and their voices are heard. This vision for a healthier future begins by recognizing and funding research as a critical enabler within the ecosystem for child and youth health and wellbeing.
In 2021, the Inspiring Healthy Futures initiative (co-led by Children’s Healthcare Canada, Pediatric Chairs of Canada, UNICEF Canada, and CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health) identified five interlinked priorities to measurably improve children’s health outcomes. Impactful research and knowledge are table stakes towards brighter futures for children, youth, and families, holding the power to enable children to live their best lives.
Over 1,500 champions for children (researchers, healthcare administrators, front-line healthcare providers, policymakers, teachers, youth, and family partners) defined nine strategic goals to advance a dynamic child health research agenda that includes developing a life cycle approach to understanding health and wellbeing from pre-conception to later in life; accelerating the mobilization of knowledge to policy, practice, and health promotion; empowering Canadians to make evidence-informed decisions related to their children’s health; and identifying approaches for the equitable integration of child, youth, and family voices into the research agenda.
Of course, establishing sustainable and equitable career pathways for young investigators is critical to empower the next generation of health researchers, build capacity for research time, and incentivizing inter-disciplinary ways of delivering health research impact.
Inspiring Healthy Futures served as a launching point for mobilizing a community of committed, passionate, and undaunted communities with a shared mission to improve children’s health outcomes. Where Canada once ranked among the top 10 OECD countries with respect to children’s health outcomes, the 2020 UNICEF Report Card 16 revealed Canada’s standing has now fallen to 30th of 38 countries with respect to children’s physical health and 31st of 38 countries regarding children’s mental health. Status quo is not an option – to improve our global standing – and improve the health and well-being of Canada’s kids, we need a plan that articulates clear goals, timelines, and accountabilities.
Children’s Healthcare Canada, alongside partners including the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Association of Paediatric Nurses, the Pediatric Chairs of Canada, and the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health are advocating for a national child health strategy, inclusive of a child health research and innovation agenda, to better understand emerging child health priorities, inform integrated and innovative children’s healthcare systems, and subsequently make Canada the best place for healthy, vibrant children and youth.
The time to make children and youth a priority for Canada is now. Investments in child health research will build the foundation for global excellence and leadership to enable every child and community the ability to thrive. Today, tomorrow, and into the future.
Children’s Healthcare Canada is a Sponsor of the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus Buffet Luncheon, Reinventing Children’s Health through Game-Changing Pediatric Research and Innovation. Visit rc-rc.ca to learn more.