Although there have been many advances in child health since the founding of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians continue to struggle with the effects of a major component of ill-health, poverty. Children often suffer the greatest from the social injustices often inherent in poverty: inadequate housing, environmental risks, malnutrition, lack of access to healthcare, and international imbalances of resources that often fuel international economic upheaval and political turmoil leading to transnational migration.
Today's pediatricians are capable of diagnosing and treating disease; however, they are often incapable of identifying and addressing the complicated social milieu which perpetuate poverty, social inequities and disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics has implemented many initiatives to address this issue, including the Community Pediatrics Training Initiative and the Council of Community Pediatrics. Furthermore, colleagues in other fields of medicine recognize the need for a greater engagement in improving systems of care and assuming more public roles and are taking action.
Although the AAP has long been an organization of advocacy, most new pediatricians continue to graduate from programs that place only minimal attention on advocacy and community pediatric training. As a result, children continue to suffer from the burdens of poverty, social injustices and ill-health.
Community for Children is committed to fostering a culture of compassion among physicians for self and for others. In so many ways, we have lost the heart in medicine. We must begin with an honest look at how our training institutions either foster or undermine compassion; then we must go on to support new physicians in examining their own reactions and responses to the challenges they face daily, both in patient care and in their own lives. In order to address the profound needs of children living in poverty, we must foster and support a community of emotionally stable and compassionate physicians.
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