Child health trailblazer hands over reins

After initiating the first professional body focused on interdisciplinary child health four years ago, Professor Kevin Forsyth stepped down as inaugural President and Chair at its annual conference (held 17-19 October).

Professor Forsyth led the establishment of The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health (ACAH) with a vision for a multidisciplinary, targeted approach to child and youth health focused on advocacy, education and collaboration.

Prior to this, the only professional medical body for this key area was the College of Physicians, which largely comprised medicine specialists centred on adult concerns.

Over its short history, the ACAH has built a membership and reputation to deliver a united framework and respected voice to the broad and segregated world of child health.

Professor Forsyth has been delighted to see his vision come to fruition.

“The Academy acts to support leaders and governments in the fundamental task of supporting this new generation. It’s all about good beginnings,” Professor Forsyth says.

“We have expanded to include everyone who has a professional role in child health, not just medicine. This multidisciplinary approach to children and youth is critical,” he says.

Prominent in Australia, the Academy is globally focused and lists the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (UK) among its many partners.

It has responded to many contemporary issues, such as the gap in services and outcomes for Aboriginal children, and issues in refugee health – including advocating for the removal of children from Nauru.

The growth and success of the Academy, a much-needed first of its kind, is a defining example of Flinders University’s innovative culture and the leadership of its people in national and international child health.

Professor Forsyth is the inaugural Dean of People and Resources in the College of Medicine and Public Health and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health. A leader in paediatrics and medical education, he chairs the South Australian Department of Health Medical Education and Training Council, convenes global paediatric academic group GapHeal (the Global Alliance for Pediatric Health Education and Leadership) and was the inaugural Dean and Director of Education for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, from 2006 to 2010.

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