Many of us appreciate the benefits of walking, especially outdoors, as a source of solace, mental well-being and healthy exercise with benefits in the short, medium and long term including avoidance of obesity and prevention of many non-communicable chronic diseases. Unfortunately, many children and young people (CYP) are not able to experience the pleasures and benefits of walking with huge short and long term implications for a child’s physical and mental health as well as impacting on school and social interactions. The reasons are multiple and include lack of safe walking environments as well inability to walk due to pain and/or disability. There is massive unmet need to improve musculoskeletal (MSK) health for children around the globe and sadly the gap between high and low resource income settings is wider than ever; the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic have only served to highlight inequity in access to health care and resources.
The Paediatric Global Musculoskeletal (MSK) Task Force, set up in 2017, is a virtual global community, open to all with representatives from Africa, Asia, Americas, Australasia and Europe to emphasise our multi-professional, multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural MSK world. We believe that all CYP around the globe have the right to walk in a safe environment and to achieve their optimal MSK health. Furthermore all CYP with MSK conditions have the right to equitable access to the right care to optimise their quality of life. All professionals engaged in the care of children can promote walking, MSK health and wellbeing through advice and encouragement about healthy lifestyle choices (e.g. diet, safe exercise). A child who cannot walk or is not walking normally, should prompt the question, ‘why not ?’ as many causes of MSK related walking problems are treatable and disability can be mitigated or prevented; enquiry needs to come from all clinicians involved in child health as most children will present to health professionals who are not MSK specialists. Parents need to be empowered to seek health care if they have concerns and the crucial role of teachers cannot be underestimated. Promotion of road safety and avoidance of injuries is crucial to save lives and prevent disability.
As we launch into 2022, the Paediatric Global MSK Task Force is planning our WALK campaign (World Action for All Kids). Our strategy is to identify and share exemplar models of care (of which there are many from around the world !) to promote walking, optimise MSK health and to identify CYP with MSK conditions and facilitate access to right care. ‘Working better together’ with wide engagement, partnership and collaboration has to be the right way forward:
“If you want to go fast, go it alone. If you want to go further, go together”- African proverb
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- Foster HE, Scott C, Tiderius CJ, Dobbs MB. The paediatric global musculoskeletal task force - 'towards better MSK health for all'. Pediatric Rheumatology 2020, 18(1), 60.
- Foster HE, Scott C, Tiderius CJ, Dobbs MB and members of the Paediatric Global MSK Task Force (Elizabeth Ang, Sirirat Charuvanij, Wendy Costello, Marja Kinnunen, Laura B. Lewandowski, Angela Migowa, Simon R. Stones, Soamarat Vilaiyuk and Kate Webb). Improving musculoskeletal health for children and young people – A 'call to action'. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology 2020, 34(5), 101566.