Taking Paediatrics Abroad 2022 Annual Report

Message from the Chair 

It is an honour to contribute to the work of TPA as Chair of the Board. 

The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to the lives of people across the world, not least those of children and young people living in low-resource settings. The pandemic also presents many hurdles for the ways in which TPA can deliver its services via similarly challenged colleagues in all the geographies we support. It is with a sense of pride that TPA has adapted its approach to achieving such a significant impact across all the areas in which we work. 

The focus of the TPA Board revolves around continued strengthening of our governance framework and supporting our Managing Director working on our strategic priorities. We have recently completed a new strategic plan, and it is clear that growth in the impact of TPA is constrained only by limited resources, particularly financial. Of course, as a small charity, our position is not unique. 

Thank you to the Board for their work and passion for our cause. Particular thanks to Liz Adsett, inaugural Chair who stepped back during the year but remains on the Board. 

Thank you to all the volunteers and contributors to our work, whether advisory, administrative, professional or otherwise – it is humbling seeing what is being achieved by a movement based almost totally on voluntary contribution. 

Lastly, thank you to Kathryn Currow, TPA’s founder and Managing Director. Kathryn is the driving force behind TPA, who continues to move any obstacle to achievement of our Vision. 

Managing Director’s Report 

TPA continues to support children and young people in Australia and in low-resource countries. Special thanks to the Board and the Advisory Group for their excellent ongoing support and to the growing pool of enthusiastic and committed volunteers, including the contributing experts, who support our work. 

Globally it has been a difficult time for children and young people with the impact of Covid-19 having significantly displaced the focus away from their needs. Gains achieved over recent years have been set back. Problems include a marked increase in poverty and malnutrition; disruption to routine vaccinations; and a significant increase in mental health problems. 

Further enhancements added throughout 2022 include: 

1. The introduction of a South Pacific paediatric journal club to share discussion about current peer reviewed research publications relevant to practice in South Pacific countries with their Australian counterparts. Facilitation by a senior paediatric presentations expert/researcher helps to provide a process for appraising publications, share experiences and build effective relationships, especially between junior doctors. 

2. A half-day virtual paediatric conference was held in May. This was attended by approximately 140 paediatric doctors and nurses from the South Pacific and Cambodia. Format included latest guidelines for TB in children; medical issues in the transition from childhood to adolescence; detecting congenital heart disease; and the importance of assessing evidence to guide best practice. 

3. Thanks to Prof. Ben Marais, Prof. Craig Mellis, A/Prof. Sue Towns, A/Prof. Kath Carmo, Dr Kate Armstrong and to paediatric colleagues from each country who gave excellent case presentations. New knowledge was a highlight, but may have been surpassed by the warm collegiality of the enthusiastic audience who were so inspired by the achievements of their colleagues in similarly resource constrained settings. This will become an annual event in the TPA calendar. 

4. A Paediatric surgical discussion group has just commenced. This will enable South Pacific surgeons and paediatricians to join in sharing experiences and learning with subspecialist Australian colleagues. Sharing experiences and ideas provides potential for enhancing services. 

5. Additional support for special requests for additional case discussions in addition to the scheduled weekly series of meetings. This reflects trusted and effective clinical relationships. 

Objectives and Activities 


Initial feedback from Pius X in Moree is that virtual consultations by paediatricians introduced by TPA have made a very positive impact on the health and well-being of Aboriginal children in the region and greatly assisted the healthcare team. 

The three paediatricians providing regular virtual consultations greatly appreciate the opportunity to contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Australian Aboriginal children and their families. Formal evaluation is planned for later in 2022. 

Another similar request for paediatric support is being actively explored. 

International locations 

With the ongoing limitations on travel, our international TPA colleagues in low-resource settings have experienced greater challenges in providing healthcare to children and young people. We are all inspired by the results these colleagues achieve in their day-to-day practice and we are humbled by their enthusiasm to enhance their services in difficult circumstances. 

Countries now include: the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Mongolia. Zoom enables broad reach within countries and sharing of experiences with colleagues in multiple international locations. 

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