The World Religions Charter for Children’s Palliative Care is the end result of the meeting of experts at the recent event organised by the Maruzza Foundation at the Vatican City in Italy. Their wish is that the charter will be a far-reaching document that will influence governments, religious movements and populations of many diverse countries and cultures. The charter is now ready to be presented to religious leaders around the world.
Silvia Lefebvre D’Ovidio of the Maruzza Foundation explains that it is their “desire and hope to see the Charter flourish and be disseminated as broadly as possible globally, so that, in dialogues between diverse cultural experiences, the guiding principles of the Charter and the vision of a world in which access to CPC for every child and family affected by life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses is guaranteed.”
The charter describes spirituality as a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. It recognises spirituality as a universal domain and a need which demands the same attention and training in palliative care as physical or psychosocial domains, but which is currently considerably less developed.
The charter also states that within children’s palliative care spirituality should be set in the specific context of the child; a developing being whose understanding is constantly changing.
The following tenets are excerpts from the full text of the Charter which can be downloaded from the Maruzza Foundation website:
The Clinical Voice
- Children and families are partners in care.
- All those caring for seriously ill children and their families should hold basic competencies in children’s palliative care.
- Learning should be ongoing, involve reflective practice, regular assessment, and include supervision and self-care.
- Children’s palliative care can be achieved through access to compassionate and well-functioning interdisciplinary teams.
The Voice of Patients and Families
- Quality of life flows from the individual himself/herself; living life with his/her family and in his/her community or society and needs should be respected, regardless of the person’s condition, length of life or age.
- Dying with dignity means living one’s life with quality and dignity throughout its course, until its very end.
- Faith-based, religious and social organisations should recognise and support families and children when palliative care is the appropriate approach to care and treatment.
- They should facilitate the practical support which ill children and their families need in their everyday lives. They should promote the inclusion of ill children in community, religious life and activities as well as develop an understanding of the ill child as a person like all others.
The Voice of the Child’s RIghts
- The right to palliative care for children, as well as for every human being with serious illness, is an integral part of the right to health. It flows from other core principles enshrined in international human rights law, especially in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- National governments need to facilitate the accessibility to affordable essential palliative care medicines for children and include paediatric formulations on their national medicines lists. Systemic and regulatory barriers should be eliminated.
- National governments should lead a concerted effort for continuing education of all relevant active health professionals in palliative care for children.
The Spiritual and Religious Voice
- The life and flourishing of every child at every stage and age are of intrinsic value.
- The aim of palliative care is to enable the seriously ill or dying child to live a dignified life.
- There are three levels at which faith leaders can contribute to the care of children. They can help care for the individual child, for example by constructively challenging understandings about the nature and value of child suffering. They can sensitise and educate the healthcare team to address issues in the spiritual domain. They can, and always should, influence the culture of their community and society.
Please click here to learn more and download the Charter.