Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand and Chloe Yang, 10/14/20, positiveexperience.org/blog
A growing body of work recognizes the important health effects of highlighting and creating positive childhood experiences. Today’s blog post makes the scientific case for this, based off of an interview with Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Stanford School of Medicine. Below, Dr. Anand details how positive childhood experiences buffer against adverse ones and explains the biological basis for this protective and healing affect. For more of Dr. Anand’s work, additional papers are provided at the end of this post.
Can you introduce yourself and your work for our blog readers?
My name is Kanwaljeet Singh Anand, and I’m a professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at Stanford School of Medicine. I also direct the Pain/Stress Neurobiology Lab at the Maternal and Child Health Institute at Stanford, as well as the Jackson Vaughan Critical Care Research Fund. I got my D. Phil. (PhD) at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, then came to Boston on a postdoctoral fellowship. In the end, my passion was underserved communities. On the CDC website, I saw the highest mortality rates for children in the country were in the Mississippi Delta region. I thought, “Maybe I can go there and help make a difference.” I stayed 22+ years in the Deep South, had the opportunity for various leadership positions, and built three critical care programs for children.
I realized that it was not enough to take care of critically ill children and make sure they get the right care, at the right time, in the right place. In 2005, I attended an MPH thesis presentation, and the student documented that in 2004, 435,000 people in Central Arkansas were without insurance. They looked at the impact of this on various outcomes, including longevity, mortality, various diseases, smoking, and other lifestyle choices. I said, “How can we be living here in Little Rock, Arkansas, enjoying the good life, and there are people who are dying out there, right in our own communities?” I wrote to everyone I knew in our medical school. We started setting up a free, charitable clinic. I wanted it to be a full-service clinic with free medical care, free dental care, health education, free pharmacy, free lab testing, free PT/OT and invasive procedures. It took a while, and in December 2008, we launched the Harmony Health Clinic. It was a full-service clinic, right from day one. That’s been up and going for the last 12 years, and I am still associated with the clinic and have continued to help others build these clinics elsewhere.