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Early intervention gets a strong push at 2nd International Developmental Pediatrics Association Congress

December 10, 2017

Achieving equity in the treatment of children - that is the underlying focus of the 2nd International Developmental Pediatrics Association Congress, currently underway in Mumbai.

Making a passionate case for it on the opening day of the 3-day conference was Anandita Kumar from Pune.

Mumbai conference puts the spotlight on developmental disorders

16-year-old Anandita, who studies in a special school in Pune, introduced herself as a "drummer and lover of Bollywood music", making it clear that she refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy, a disability that she was diagnosed with when she five years old.

"My parents tell me that compared to the other children in the hospital ward, I did not cry and I believe that I continue to show that strength even today", said Anandita to a standing ovation from the audience, made up of physicians, mental health professionals, educators, social workers and policy makers from across the world.

Theme of the Congress is A World of Difference

Like Anandita, there were others who shared their achievements, struggles and tears. The inspiring Dr Scott Wright, Head of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who suffers from cerebral palsy, drew a laugh when he joked about how he came to the realisation that he could never become a professional ice hockey player like many of his friends in Canada.

First IDPAC was held in 2015

This is the second IDPAC, which is held every two years in a low or middle-income country. The aim is to create a scientific, international platform to connect and support experts working in the field of developmental disorders and early child intervention. Over these three days, committees will be formed that will work on advocacy and other policy related issues.

"The momentum towards early child development is building", believes Bernadette Daelmans, who works with the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organisation, WHO. An international platform like the IDPAC will help seize this and hopefully drive it forward to help more children like Anandita experience her "can do spirit", as she called it.

"The momentum towards early child development is building"

Like many other teenagers, Anandita says she loves food, music and people. Her future goal - to become an event organiser. Who knows - she may be the one organising a future IDPAC!

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