Congress offers glimpse into future of children's health

Scores of experts will gather to set the health agenda for the 21st century

October 18, 1999

Earlier this century, parents were virtually paralyzed with fear at the thought their child could get polio. When Jonas Salk and his colleagues created a vaccine in 1955, it took only a few decades until that fear - along with the disease - was nearly eradicated; in 1996, there were only five reported polio cases in the U.S.

We've made tremendous medical progress this century, nearly wiping out diseases like polio and smallpox, and dramatically increasing a premature baby's odds of survival. Even so, there's much work left to do - and a broader picture to consider - as we strive to improve children's health in the 21st century.

By 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates more than 77 million children will live in the U.S. While those children might be better off medically than 100 years ago, they face a slew of new challenges that need to - and will be - addressed when more than 150 internationally known childhood health experts gather at Rochester Child Health Congress at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The experts will do so with a common understanding - that about 75 percent of a child's health is determined outside of the traditional medical establishment, away from the hospital or doctor's office. We face new challenges now, many of which can't be treated with a vaccine or treatment - teen suicide, single-parent families, and the impact of poverty.

Those attending the Rochester Child Health Congress will set the agenda for children's health in the 21st century. They will discuss what we already know works to make our children healthier, and determine where we have glaring gaps in our knowledge that prevent us from solving problems. Perhaps most importantly, they will determine what strategies would be effective to address problems, if only we had the right social strategy and political will.

The Congress will bring together people from the fields of pediatric, psychology, nursing, social work, maternal and child health, economics, law, public policy and more who are dedicated to the well-being of children.

Many of the nation's most respected children's health experts will speak at the Congress, including Julius Richmond, M.D., a former U.S. Surgeon General who served as the first director of Head Start. Other experts who will speak at the meeting include:

  • J. Lawrence Aber, Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Children in Poverty of Columbia University;
  • Judith Jones, Ph.D., former Director of the Center, and a renowned author and expert on the relationship between poverty and child health;
  • David Ellwood, Ph.D., of the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, one of the developers of welfare reforms. He left the Clinton Administration because he disagreed with their method of implementing welfare reform;
  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., of Columbia University, one of two editors of a recent book on Children and Poverty, and a renowned and respected expert; and
  • Irwin Redlener, MD, of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, has developed countless programs to help homeless children and recently traveled across the country with Al Gore as he worked on and announced his children's health care plan.

If you would like more information, please call Travis Anderson at (716) 275-3676.

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