International Perspective from Dr. Meredith

KidsIn the United States, trauma is the number one killer of kids. In the world, especially the third world, but depending on the country, it is second or third to infectious diseases and birth-related problems.

As those issues improve and sanitation improves and vaccinations improve, trauma is rapidly becoming a greater percentage of the deaths of children than ever before. Fortunately it’s because the other diseases are becoming less frequent and less fatal. It’s good that they’re becoming less frequent and less fatal, but it’s bad that trauma is not becoming less frequent and less fatal. Trauma is, in fact, globally becoming more frequent. It is more fatal in many parts of the world, injury per injury, than it is here.

There are several reasons for that. The first reason that it’s globally becoming more common is as you industrialize countries and the economies of countries improve, there’s a lot more traffic. There’s a lot more development needed in the supporting infrastructure: in the safety, in the emergency response, the treatment knowledge, and all the pieces that we’ve taken for granted in this country for years. The infrastructure is not there in a lot of countries, especially third world countries.

There are a lot of transportation injuries that are fatal to children. There are a lot more fires that are fatal to children, and sadly, war. There’s a lot of war. I participated in a global web symposium last week that connected surgeons, emergency physicians and nurses to share knowledge about techniques and experiences that can help everyone. In these webinars, we have talked a lot about blast injury effects, and some other things that you would not otherwise know about. Part of the reason is that citizens and physicians of this country need to be made aware of it.

It’s rare here, but we have our Boston Marathon bombings, and when these catastrophes occur, people need to be able to step up and know. You need to train and drill on things that are not common. Also, you need to learn from the experiences of people in our military and other places, experts that can inform the physicians in the world where these injuries are not uncommon. Without the international and convenient capability of the webinar medium, we wouldn’t be able to gather this knowledge or connect with such a broad audience.

Reducing the number of children dying from critical injuries is easier to attempt with the current technology for these webinars that can transmit knowledge worldwide. There is a huge appetite for this kind of knowledge, especially because it’s available and of interest to our colleagues around the world. These medical professionals need educational opportunities about pediatric trauma.

Additionally, there are some types of injuries that are relatively rare for us that other people around the world see that we need to know about. There are brilliant, creative people who are treating and taking care of patients in very austere conditions with very few resources who have come up with ideas that will be helpful to the other members of the world community. They will be helpful to us even though we have more resources in the highly-industrialized world.

The pediatric trauma web seminar I participated in is the busiest one that the provider, GlobalCast MD, hosts. We had approximately 1,400 attendees from 26 countries around the world. Of all the pediatric health seminars that they host, this is the most well-attended, most highly subscribed, by quite a margin. It just goes to show how ubiquitous the problem is and how thirsty people are in the world for these solutions.

Good smart ideas are still good smart ideas. Creating this network, this community of individuals committed to improving the fate of injured children is in-and-of-itself a good thing. It is a good thing at an intellectual level. It’s a good thing at a humanitarian level. It’s just the right thing to do.

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