Children are rights holders with a progressively evolving ability to make their own decisions. They have the right to express their views on all matters that affect them, namely in the field of health care, and to have their view taken into account.
This requires paying particular attention to children’s participation in decision making processes on matters related to their health.
Benefits of child participation are many. They are not only beneficial to individual children but serve the community as a whole and improve the general quality of health care delivery (or provision).
In this context, healthcare professionals and other professionals involved need to understand the importance of their role in supporting children and their families in this process.
The Guidelines for child friendly healthcare adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in September 2011, requested member states to support programs and policies aimed at raising the awareness of children and their parents of their rights to active participation in decision making and the promotion and protection of their health, by creating legal structures and policies that support the promotion of children’s rights in health care.
How to enable and facilitate the participation of children in decision-making processes on matters relevant to their health, and how to give information to children and their families, should be subject of training and education of health professionals that work with children.
Good practices and tools relevant to children’s participation, including in the research context, need to be developed and promoted.
Special attention and additional support must be given to children who may face additional challenges or barriers to participate in decision making processes (including but not limited to, children with disabilities, with mental health problems, migrants, language, cultural and sexual minorities).