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The Impact of War on Child Health in the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia Executive Summary The participants in the Workshop on the Impact of War on Child Health in the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia (the “Child Health Workshop ”) were doctors from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia, all of whom were knowledgeable about the situation of children in their own countries, and senior U.S. and European pediatricians drawn from academic and professional organizations. A common interest in the health and welfare of children provided the opportunity to put aside political differences in the interest of focusing on the state of child health and well-being in these countries that have experienced the political, economic, and social disruptions of war. The presentations and deliberations of the workshop participants provided insight into currently available information to assess the physical and mental health of the children in these countries. Workshop discussions identified gaps in knowledge that can be addressed by future studies and professional exchanges in the areas of epidemiology, primary care, trauma, acute and chronic illnesses, mental health, and child protection. The role of doctors as a conscience of the community deserves more consideration in times of stress and under difficult circumstances such as war. Pediatricians and children's doctors in particular have a professional obligation to act to protect children under such circumstances. Workshop discussions identified some key principles that can be used to guide professional practice in the protection of children. These principles include the need to keep children with their parents whenever possible, the need to protect children within their home communities whenever possible, and the importance of maintaining basic health, education, and social services for children under conditions of adversity. In addition, workshop participants discussed codes of professional ethics and international guidelines such as the International Convention on the Rights of the
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The Impact of War on Child Health in the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia Child. There was consensus that such guidelines and international agreements constitute valuable instruments that can exert a powerful influence for the protection of children during times of turmoil. Improved communications between international and professional organizations such as pediatric societies were emphasized as important tools in achieving child protection and maintaining child health. The successful development of professional networks for sharing information and collaborations can be especially helpful to health professionals who are isolated both geographically and professionally under conditions of war and dislocation. Participants in the Workshop on Child Health will reconvene at future dates to continue to develop communications networks, to sustain the relationships and exchanges that occurred during the discussions, and to move forward with specific projects such as the fostering of pediatric societies and their ties to the European and world pediatric communities, the gathering of epidemiologic data, the design of programs to support child mental health services, the definition of needs for the restoration of child health, and the exploration of the roles of children's doctors in the protection of children in difficult circumstances.
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