For the first time, leading world experts in the field of paediatric palliative care met with prominent theologians of the world’s main faiths, preeminent human rights advocates, and paediatric patients and their families, to draw up a document that affirms children’s palliative care as the best response to addressing the complex needs of the 20 million children on our planet suffering from life-limiting and life-threatening diseases.
The workshop titled “Defining the Essence of Paediatric Palliative Care: Religions Together”, was held on November 10th, at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy for Life in the Vatican City. Four working groups covered the following domains:
Technical Aspects, Human Rights Issues, Spirituality & Religion, and The Patients’ Perspective. In the afternoon, the groups joined forces to prepare and endorse the Charter in favour of global access to children’s palliative care.
“Recognising and learning from the spirituality of a child is important, not only for the child, but also for the health carers own spiritual development,” said Professor Dr Anne Merriman, who attended the workshop.
The event was conceived and organised by the Maruzza Lefebvre D’Ovidio Foundation, which has been engaged for over fifteen years in advocating palliative care for children with irreversible diseases and, in 2013, was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit for Public Health by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.
“Palliative care is global care, encompassing the clinical, psychological and spiritual needs of patients and their families and aims to achieve the best quality of life possible and respect for human dignity. The moral authority of religion has global reach, and one of the common primary aspirations of all religions is the protection of the vulnerable. Since these patients are among the most vulnerable, our desire at the close of our workshop is to present a universal declaration, by all faiths, that paediatric palliative care is the best approach, and a right, for all children and young people suffering from life-threatening and life-limiting disease,” said Silvia Lefebvre D’Ovidio, leader of the Maruzza Foundation.