KARACHI: The 26th Biennial International Paediatric Conference organised by the Pakistan Paediatric Association (PPA) concluded at a local hotel on Sunday with experts presenting the first-time developed guidelines for use of oxygen therapy for children, especially premature babies, as well as recommendations to the provincial government on how to improve child health in the province.

Sharing highlights of the guidelines, Prof Syed Jamal Raza said the paediatric association had launched its first formal guidelines for the use of oxygen therapy often required in hospital settings in cases of pneumonia and other serious diseases.

“The association also recommends to paediatricians to refer newborns born before the gestational age of 34 weeks and/or a birth weight of less than 2kg who have received oxygen as part of their management to eye specialists,” he noted.

These babies, Dr Raza pointed out, could develop problems with their eyes and can potentially develop blindness if left unchecked. “However, with proper screening and laser treatment, this blindness in premature babies can be prevented.”

The guidelines jointly developed by PPA, Unicef and National Health Services provides latest information on the administration of oxygen therapy and would be forwarded to the health department for implementation.

During the three-day event, a special session was arranged to address the various health aspects of adolescent medicine.

According to experts, this age group from 10 to 19 years of age is complex and has unique set of both physical and mental health problems.

Some of them, they said, might be overlooked as they fall in a transition zone between children and adults. Therefore, the PPA recommended establishment of a special group to address problems of this age group like teenage pregnancies etc.

In a session, it was shown that the recent number of deaths globally attributed to non-communicable diseases have increased to 41 million, which constituted 74 per cent of all deaths. The majority of these were happening in lower middle income countries.

The major causes of these deaths, experts said, were cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory problems and cancer.

Although these deaths happened during the adult age, the footprints of these were set in childhood and adolescent years owing to poor dietary habits, obesity, lack of physical activity, high salt intake, and use of both smoke and smoke free tobacco.

A study presented during the event showed overweight/obesity was found in 18pc-20pc of children, inadequate physical activity in over 60pc, improper diet in 85pc, and use of tobacco in up to 20pc.

Therefore, experts emphasised, there was an urgent need for paediatricians to take up these issues with parents before the development of these habits and prevent the non-communicable diseases later on in adult life.

In another session, Dr Tufail Muhammad Khan representing the Child Rights Group spoke about child abuse, its impact on the child and absence of a protection mechanism for victims.

A child abuse victim might suffer physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy, physical injuries, anxiety or even attempt suicide. Long-term effects of abuse included cognitive impairment, paralysis, sexual dysfunction, infertility and poor social adaptation.

“Short-term consequences may become long term consequences. In Pakistan, we neither have a structured child protection system nor any federal and provincial legislation. There is a need for a structured system for child protection, which works on abuse prevention, recognition as well as on a referral, management and rehab system.”

According to Dr Khan, families, schools, health professionals, law enforcement agencies, social services, voluntary agencies, community leaders and religious organisations should come forward and play their role in keeping families together and children safe.

“All of us know that child abuse constitutes of all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment and exploitation resulting in potential harm to the child’s health, survival and development.”

Dr Waseem-ur-Rehman in his talk on the spectrum of inherited metabolic disorders with neurological manifestations in children informed the audience that inborn errors of metabolism were inherited diseases in which a protein function was damaged or lost.

“Neurological manifestations are the most common presenting features and it occurs at varying rates in different groups with a higher rate associated with consanguinity (cousin marriages),” he noted.

In her presentation, Dr Arsheen Zeeshan told the audience paediatric traumatic brain injury was the leading cause of mortality and morbidity and observed in more than 75pc of fall-related injuries and 50c of road traffic accidents.

“In Pakistan, 46pc of traumatic brain injuries do not have access to quality emergency medical services.”

Dr Waseem Jamalvi, Dr M. Khalid Shafi, Prof Tipu Sultan, Prof Aisha Mehnaz and Dr Naeem Zafar also spoke.

Over 3,000 delegates participated in the conference, including those from America, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Malaysia.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...
China’s concerns
23 Jun, 2024

China’s concerns

Pakistan has no option but to neutralise militant threat to Chinese projects, as well as address its business and political stability concerns.
War drums
23 Jun, 2024

War drums

If it is foolish enough to launch another war in Lebanon, Tel Aviv will be solely responsible for setting the Middle East on fire.
Balochistan budget
23 Jun, 2024

Balochistan budget

BALOCHISTAN’S Rs955.6bn budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 makes many pledges to the poor citizens of Pakistan’s...