Melbourne Children’s Global Health Forum March 2022

Childhood cerebral palsy research in the majority world – epidemiology, opportunities and future directions

12:30-1:30pm AEDT Thursday 10 March 2022
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Professor Gulam Khandaker, Director Public Health Physician, Central Queensland Public Health Unit, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service
Facilitator: Dr Kate Milner, Melbourne Children’s Campus

According to UNICEF’s 2020 ‘Seen, Counted, Included’ report, 240 million children aged 0-17 years worldwide have a disability. The commonest physical disability in childhood across settings is cerebral palsy. Children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy, experience poorer health and educational access, opportunities and outcomes than their typically developing peers. Children with disabilities are also differentially vulnerable to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and the climate emergency. At the same time, needs of children with disabilities are often under-recognised in both global child health and child development initiatives.

In this forum, Prof Gulam Khandaker, an internationally recognised researcher and leader in international childhood disability research and public health will share highlights of his cerebral palsy research, and his reflections on ongoing opportunities and future directions in the field.

Prof Khandaker trained in Paediatrics and Public Health Medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) and is an Adjunct Professor at CQ University and the University of Sydney. Prof Khandaker is current of Director of Public Health and Director of Medical Research for the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

Prof Khandaker’s work in cerebral palsy research in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) is extensive and includes a focus on epidemiology as well as implementation research in LMIC in collaboration with partners in Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Suriname and Saudi Arabia. Notably, his work has included establishment of a population-based register for children with cerebral palsy (CP) in Bangladesh and now leading an international multi-centre register of children with CP in low and middle-income countries (Global LMIC CP Register: GLM-CPR) in collaboration with over 30 organizations from 10 in low and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Fresh from his keynote presentations at Melbourne’s #BetterTogether combined conference of the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy & Developmental Medicine and International Alliance of Academies of Developmental Medicine (March 1-5, 2022), this forum presents an exciting opportunity to hear more from Prof Khandaker, ask questions and consider how together we can do better, including through research to better meet the needs of children with physical disability in diverse settings.

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