A world first: Scottish Parliament hosts the signing of the Religions of the World Charter for Children’s Palliative Care

Categories: Leadership.

It was fitting, given Scotland’s global reputation for palliative care advocacy, that the Scottish Parliament should be the first political institution in the world where the Religions of the World Charter for Children’s Palliative Care was signed on Wednesday 8th February 2017. At an event hosted by EMMS International and sponsored by Andy Wightman MSP, guests including Members of the Scottish Parliament, faith leaders and palliative care advocates gathered to hear about the pressing global need for appropriate palliative care for 21 million children.* 

Guest speaker, Silvia Lefebvre D’Ovidio from the Maruzza Foundation spoke about the vision and purpose of the Charter, calling on Scotland to sign up and ensure children are not overlooked. 

Andy Wightman, MSP, chaired a panel discussion with James Wells, CEO of EMMS International, Joan Marston, former Chair of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and Gill Deaves, NHS Fife palliative care nurse. There was consensus about the enormous potential of the Charter and recognition that there is still much to be done to ensure children have the vital care they need, no matter where they live in the world. 

Colin Brown shared his own moving family story of the support they received when his baby daughter Eilish became ill and eventually died in Rachel House Hospice.

“The palliative care we had in Scotland from both CHAS and the NHS helped keep us together as a family. The realisation your child needs to enter the world of palliative care is something far too many parents have to deal with. Your grieving starts immediately because you know you are going to lose your child far too soon ….

I cannot imagine a situation, as happens in countries like Malawi, where there is no support network as we have in Scotland with CHAS and people like Gill and her colleagues in the NHS.”

The Charter is signed in the Scottish Parliament
After the presentations MSPs as well as Faith leaders signed the Charter. Palliative Care experts added their signatures along with EMMS International trustees, team and supporters. 

Members of the Scottish Parliament who signed the Charter

  • Andy Wightman
  • Kate Forbes
  • Elaine Smith
  • John Mason
  • Alexander Stewart
  • Jeremy Balfour

With other MSPs signing up online. 

The Religions of the World Charter for Children’s Palliative Care

The Religions of the World Charter for Children’s Palliative Care is a ground breaking initiative by the Maruzza Foundation, the Charter is now available in 8 world languages including Hebrew and Arabic and has been signed by Scientific congresses at the Maruzza International Congress in Rome, the Asia Conference of the Society of International Paediatric Oncology in Moscow, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network in Buenos Aires, the 48th Paediatric Oncology Congress in Dublin and the Catholic Academy of Bavaria.

Its purpose is to dismantle the barriers that prevent 21 million children worldwide affected by serious life-limiting illnesses from receiving care that is appropriate to their age and disease.

Religions have global reach and due to their broadly recognized moral authority can provide fundamental support for children’s palliative care provisions by:

  • affirming that all children with serious illness should have guaranteed access to palliative care
  • confirming that alleviating pain is a moral and religious obligation
  • recommending to political leaders and policy makers that children’s palliative care should be integrated into every national healthcare system

If you would like to add your signature to the Charter, please go to www.emms.org/charter

*Estimating the Global Need for Palliative Care for Children: A Cross-sectional Analysis. Published 2 February 2017, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. Stephen R Connor, Julia Downing, Joan Marston. (Part funded by EMMS International)


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