Anyone having suffered from a serious health problem knows the anxiety, the frustration, the pain and the other upsetting feelings that may arise when in contact with the health system. It is not difficult to imagine how these feelings amplify when the patient is a child. A consultation with children carried out by the Council of Europe confirmed that in their contacts with health care professionals, children wish to be listen to, to be respected and to be explained the issues in a way they can understand. Children need a health care system that takes into account their rights, their needs, their feelings and opinions.
As a response to that challenge, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted in 2011 the Guidelines on child-friendly health care. These Guidelines place children’s rights, needs and resources at the centre of health care activities, taking into account children’s opinions and evolving capacities. Creating alignment and synergy between interventions, organisations and individuals is crucial to an efficient child-centred health care. This implies the adoption of an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach, sometimes referred to as a “continuum of care”.
In a nutshell, the goal of the child-friendly health care approach is to embed children’s rights in the health care system to ensure that the right things happen, to the right children, at the right time, in the right place, and using the right staff having the right support, to achieve the right outcomes, all at the right cost.