Children’s Palliative Care in Humanitarian Settings Updated E-learning Course

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Photo Credit: Flickr/United to end genocide

This course was jointly developed by the ICPCN and PallCHASE 

A record 339 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2023. In a humanitarian crisis, children are among the most vulnerable, yet in times of crisis, children, particularly those with serious illnesses, are often forgotten. During a crisis, children with serious illnesses face multiple threats, as their pre-existing health problems are exacerbated, new threats to their health emerge, and the systems which should protect them often fail.

Ensuring access to palliative care during humanitarian crises has often been overlooked; the imperative to save lives has often meant that the suffering of those who cannot be cured is forgotten. Palliative care is an essential component of any humanitarian response, helping to control symptoms and alleviate suffering for children with a wide range of serious illnesses.

Most health care workers in crises situations are unfamiliar with even the basic principles of children’s palliative care, and there is an urgent need to train and equip health workers to provide palliative care for children.

Clinicians, educators and experts from two key organizations, ICPCN (International Children’s Palliative Care Network) and PallCHASE (Palliative Care in Humanitarian Aid Situations and Emergencies), have collaborated to develop a new e-learning course which aims to bridge this knowledge and skills gap by providing an overview of key palliative care practices for clinicians in humanitarian settings, including war and conflict, natural disasters, protracted crises and complex emergencies.

This course has been developed with input from healthcare professionals with experience providing palliative care in humanitarian settings, ensuring that the modules reflect the challenging realities of these settings.

The first two modules were published in 2022, and the final two modules have now been released. Together these four modules will guide learners through core palliative care topics focussing on clinical cases which are common in humanitarian settings. The course provides practical guidance about how to provide care when resources are limited.

Module 1 discusses basic principles of Children’s Palliative Care and learners are required to complete this module first, after which they are free to complete the next 3 modules in any order.

Module 2 focusses on End-of-Life Care for children, discussing locations of care, symptom management and communication challenges related to end of life situations.

Module 3 teaches clinicians the core practices of Communication and Family Centred Care, focussing key communication techniques such as active listening and responding with empathy.

Module 4 outlines the core principles of Pain and Symptom Care, including assessment and management, with an emphasis on treatments which are generally available and practical in humanitarian settings.

The course’s online learning system provides learners with an interactive learning experience. Each module includes case studies to contextualise learning, video and audio clips, opportunities for reflection, knowledge quizzes, numerous links and a wealth of additional resources. At the end of each module, there is a brief final assessment and once successfully completed, learners receive a certificate of completion for the module.

This and all other courses available on the ICPCN e-learning site are endorsed by the University of South Wales and are available for free.


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