World Health Day and the role of children’s palliative care

Categories: Care.

This World Health Day, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) is raising awareness of the millions of unacknowledged children around the world diagnosed with a life-threatening or life limiting illness.

Our research indicates that globally there are at least 21 million children whose suffering could be lessened and alleviated by the provision of good hospice and palliative care. For the great majority of these children, receiving the holistic care that such programmes can provide depends entirely on where a child happens to be born or live. We know that in most low and middle income countries, these services either do not exist, or are very localised and cannot begin to meet the enormous need that has been identified. 

It is unacceptable to us as an organisation promoting the development of children’s palliative care that society’s most vulnerable children and their families continue to suffer unnecessarily, when the provision of relatively simple medical interventions to relieve pain and ease discomfort, with the addition of spiritual and psychosocial support, would immediately and vastly improve their quality of life and allow a dignified death.

The theme for this year’s Word Health Day is ‘Depression’ with the campaign slogan, ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’.

Depression is a disorder that affects people of all ages, including children and the risk of becoming depressed is increased by difficult life events, which include physical illness, death and loss. These children and their families need people they can talk to, people who can walk the difficult journey alongside them and people who will listen and fully understand what they are going through. Children’s palliative care professionals provide this support.

On this World Health Day, please join us in calling on governments and health departments worldwide to put the necessary processes in place that will support these 21 million children and their families.