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A world first: Scottish Parliament hosts the signing of the Religions of the World Charter for Children’s Palliative Care.

Published 15 Feb 2017

A world first: Scottish Parliament hosts the signing of the Religions of the World Charter for Children’s Palliative Care.

It was fitting, given Scotland’s global reputation for palliative care advocacy, that the Scottish Parliament should be the first political institution in the world where the Charter was signed on Wednesday 8th February 2017.

The event, hosted by EMMS International and sponsored by Andy Wightman MSP, brought together guests including MSPs, faith leaders and palliative care advocates to hear of the pressing global need for appropriate palliative care for 21 million children.


Guest speaker, Silvia Lefebvre D’Ovidio from the Maruzza Foundation spoke about the vision and purpose of the Charter calling on Scotland to sign up and ensure children are not overlooked.

Andy Wightman MSP chaired a panel discussion about the value of the Charter and lessons that can be learned from countries like Malawi. James Wells, CEO of EMMS International, Joan Marston, Former Chair of International Children’s Palliative Care Network and Gill Deaves, NHS Fife palliative care nurse all spoke from their own experience working in Scotland and around the world. They agreed on the importance of learning about care in the community from resource poor settings and identifying how to apply best practice back in a Scottish setting. And there was consensus about the enormous potential of the Charter and recognition that there’s still much to be done to ensure children have the vital care they need, no matter where they live.

In a profoundly moving talk, Colin Brown shared his own family story of the support they received when his baby daughter Eilish became ill and eventually died in Rachel House Hospice.
“The palliative care we had in Scotland from both CHAS and the NHS helped keep us together as a family. The realisation your child needs to enter the world of palliative care is something far too many parents have to deal with. Your grieving starts immediately because you know you are going to lose your child far too soon….

I cannot imagine a situation, as happens in countries like Malawi, where there is no support network as we have in Scotland with CHAS and people like Gill and her colleagues in the NHS.”

The Charter is signed in the Scottish Parliament.

After the presentations everyone was invited to sign the Charter. MSPs as well as faith leaders from Scottish Churches and the Interfaith Association signed. Palliative Care experts added their signatures along with EMMS International trustees, team and supporters.

MSPs who signed the Charter

* Andy Wightman

* Kate Forbes

* Elaine Smith

* John Mason

* Alexander Stewart

* Jeremy Balfour

With other MSPs signing up online.


If you would like to add your signature to the Charter, please go to www.emms.org/charter

Religions of the World Charter for Children's Palliative Care.

A ground breaking initiative by the Maruzza Foundation.



The Charter is now in 8 world languages including Hebrew and Arabic and has been signed by Scientific congresses at the Maruzza International Congress in Rome, the Asia Conference of the Society of International Paediatric Oncology in Moscow, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network in Buenos Aires, the 48th Paediatric Oncology Congress in Dublin and the Catholic Academy of Bavaria.


Its purpose is to dismantle the barriers that prevent 21 million children worldwide affected by serious life-limiting illnesses from receiving care that is appropriate to their age and disease.


Religions have global reach and due to their broadly recognized moral authority can provide fundamental support for children's palliative care provisions by:

  • affirming that all children with serious illness should have guaranteed access to palliative care
  • confirming that alleviating pain is a moral and religious obligation
  • recommending to political leaders and policy makers that children's palliative care should be integrated into every national healthcare system.

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You can be part of this vital work by becoming a 175 Friend, giving you the opportunity to support colleagues like Manju in Nepal and Cornelius in Malawi as they work hard to ensure children and adults receive appropriate palliative care. 

* Estimating the Global Need for Palliative Care for Children: A Cross-sectional Analysis. Published 2 February 2017, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
Stephen R Connor, Julia Downing, Joan Marston. (Part funded by EMMS International)
Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance and International Children’s Palliative Care Network (S.R.C.), Fairfax Station, Virginia, USA; International Children’s Palliative Care Network (J.D.), Kampala, Uganda; International Children’s Palliative Care Network (J.M.), Bloemfontein, South Africa