First paediatric palliative care ward to open in Ukraine

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The 15-bed ward will open in the small city of Nadvirna, in the Ivano-Frankivska district.

The ward will be run by Svitlana Reitmayer and Halyna Kuznezova, the clinical director of the children’s hospital where the palliative care ward will be hosted.

Lyudmyla Andriyishyn, chief specialist on palliative care of the Ivano-Frankivsk district and director of the Ivano-Frankivsk palliative care training centre, led the ‘First Children’s Hospice’ project to raise funds for the opening of the ward.The project was supported by local government and many other local and all-Ukrainian charitable foundations. Following a five-hour telemarathon organised by the project, during which more than USD 180 000 was raised, building was able to commence.

The ward will accommodate children from newborn to 18 years of age with palliative care needs, regardless of diagnosis. There will also be meetings, counselling sessions and respite care available for the children’s families.

In Ukraine, opioids for pain relief in children are not available in the appropriate dosages. Kseniya Shapoval, Palliative Care Initiative Coordinator for the International Renaissance Foundation in Ukraine, said: “We need to work more intensely to make morphine available for children.”

Asked about the demand for paediatric palliative care in Ukraine, Ms Shapoval responded: “In Ukraine, about 5000 children per year need palliative care: 500 with oncological diseases and the other 4500 with different types of diseases. Their family members also need support and care. We have run an information campaign so people know that they can come to us to get support.”

There is also a great demand for home paediatric palliative care in the country. Ms Shapoval says: “There are many families who are living in small villages who cannot travel long distances to seek care, so they need palliative care to come to their homes.”

The centre will be opened by Roman Melnyk, director of the health care department of the Ivano-Frankivsk district, and will be attended by local sponsors and palliative care providers.

Find out more on the website of the Ivano-Frankivsk ‘Mother Teresa’ Hospice Foundation (page in Ukrainian- Google translate available).

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