World Health Day is celebrated annually to mark the anniversary of the World Health Organisation (WHO). This year’s theme is our planet, our health. Urgent actions are needed to keep humans and the planet healthy. On this day, we would like to focus on the children and young people who need palliative care worldwide.
ICPCN’s research shows that over 21 million children globally need access to palliative care, with at least 8 million needing specialist palliative care. The Global Atlas of Palliative Care reports that majority of children in need of palliative care up to 97% aged 0-19 years live in low and middle-income countries. Children with HIV/AIDS and congenital malformations represent almost 46% of the need for palliative care, followed by children with extreme prematurity and birth trauma (almost 18%) and injuries (16%). The African region accounts for over half the need for palliative care among children, followed by Southeast Asia (20%), the Eastern Mediterranean (12%), and the Western Pacific (8%).
The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) is a worldwide network of individuals and agencies working with children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Our mission is to achieve the best quality of life and care for children and young people their families and carers worldwide, by raising awareness of children’s palliative care among the public, health professionals, and policymakers; advocating to governments and international organisations for the global development of children’s palliative care services; expanding the evidence-base for children’s palliative care; and sharing expertise, skills, and knowledge with our global network of members.
So much has been accomplished over the years in advocating for children living with palliative care needs but there is still more that needs to be done. Palliative care is a core component of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to ensure everyone has access to the quality health services they need. The ICPCN has committed to advocate for palliative care to be included in UHC for children by skilled health care workers. We call on governments to ensure that palliative care for children is included as an integral part of UHC. The ICPCN believes that children’s palliative care is the right of any child diagnosed with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness. This belief is supported by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that the best interest of the child should be the primary consideration in all interactions with the child. It further refers to palliative care as a component of the child’s right to health. There is no UHC without palliative care.