Speech from the President: Innovating Child and Family Health Conference

Delivered at the Westin Hotel
Ottawa, Ontario

November 17, 2014

Good morning, bonjour.

I am pleased to welcome you in turn to this conference - the first of its kind in Canada.

To begin, I want to thank Parliamentary Secretary Eve Adams for joining us. Child and family health research is vital for Canada's future, and we appreciate the Government of Canada's continued support in this area.

I also want to thank the child and family health foundations and organizations that provided consultation and support for this conference.

And most importantly, I want to congratulate Dr. Stevens on receiving the 2014 CIHR Knowledge Translation Award. Your research on child pain demonstrates what we can achieve when we build strong research partnerships.

And it really speaks to why we are here today.

Indeed, support for health research cannot – and should not – be the sole responsibility of governmental organizations. Partnerships between stakeholders with shared goals and complimentary perspectives are essential for developing a strong research agenda.

Foundations, charities, industry, universities and hospitals, all have a role to play in identifying and addressing the health issues that matter to Canadians.

These partnerships must not be seen merely in terms of financial support. They must serve to identify and share complementary approaches and perspectives to achieve common goals.

That is why your involvement in this conference is so critical. Our objective is to create new and transformative partnerships in the area of child and family health.  

We live in an interconnected world where health challenges are increasingly global in nature and by extension these complex challenges require a global coordinated response from all.

This is why CIHR has already established strong partnerships to develop and support research that will help us improve child and family health, both at home and abroad.

For instance, through the Global Health Research Initiative, we partner with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the International Development Research Centre to support implementation research that will help improve health outcomes and strengthen health care systems in low and middle-income countries.

As an example of the work funded through this initiative, let me cite the case of a low cost intervention in Pakistan that was able to double the rate of measles vaccination and triple the rate of full DPT vaccination. A project that will have effect for decades to come,

Closer to home, we are developing partnerships to implement research programs that will improve children's access to oral health care in Aboriginal communities.

Members of those communities, such as seniors, teachers and health workers, are participating in the research process to ensure that outcomes will be adapted to the culture and have greater impact.

Child and youth mental health is another area for research—and care—in which there is obvious need.

Recently, CIHR and the Graham Boeckh Foundation launched the Transformational Research in Adolescent Mental Health initiative, or TRAM for short, which aims to improve the quality and timeliness of mental health care for young Canadians.

The TRAM initiative's co-leadership approach to partnership is what makes it distinctive. It is about building relationships that will enable us to identify and meet the needs of Canadians.

CIHR also works to support partnerships between researchers and the private sector.

For example, through AUTO21, one of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence, we have invested in the research of Dr. Anne Snowdon who, through a partnership with Magna International, developed and commercialized a new car seat, which is now making car rides safer for young children.

These are just a few of the ways that CIHR is promoting active partnership and patient engagement to support research and accelerate the translation of research results into better health outcomes.

Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults. By working together to tackle challenges in child health today – whether it's improving oral health or preventing injuries – we can prevent the chronic illnesses of tomorrow and lay the foundation for a healthier Canada.

Community members are fully involved throughout the research process, so that the resulting programs will be culturally-appropriate and have greater impact.

I look forward to your active participation and engagement over the next two days.

Thank you, and enjoy the conference.

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