Saturday 19th May 2018 saw the Founding Assembly and the First National Symposium of the China Association for Life Care (CALC) Children’s Palliative Care and Family Health Care Professional Services Committee at the Beijing Children’s Hospital.
As he opened the symposium and launched the committee Prof Wang Tianyou, Vice President of Beijing Children’s Hospital, heralded in a “new era” for children’s palliative care in China. Acknowledging the tremendous work that has been going on in the development of children’s Palliative Care through CALC, Butterfly House Children’s Hospice and the children’s palliative care teams in many of the children’s hospitals in China, he went on to say that the government recognises the need for children’s palliative care in China, that for many of the 4.5 million children in the country who need palliative care, access to services is limited and he hopes that in this “new era” children’s palliative care will be extended to all in need across China. The founding and awarding ceremony of the committee was overseen by Prof Wang Tianyou, Li Huairong (Secretary General of CALC), Lynda Gould MBE (CEO of Butterfly Children’s Hospices) and Prof Julia Downing (CEO the International Children’s Palliative Care Network).
Opening speeches were also delivered by leaders from the National Health Department and the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Ms Song Wenzhen from the State Department of the Women and Children’s Commission confirmed the government policy and actions to improve quality of life for families and recognised the role that palliative care for children plays in achieving that goal.
The National Symposium gave the opportunity to hear about the work on children’s palliative care that is going on within China. Prof Julia Downing, Chief Executive of ICPCN set the scene by talking about the state of children’s palliative care globally and policy development. Having addressed the definition of children’s palliative care, she went on to discuss the global need for children’s palliative care, setting it in the context of the World Health Assembly Resolution in 2014, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the Lancet Commission report (2017) and the Sustainable Development Goals. Following on from this Paul Quilliam, CEO and Co-founder of Hummingbird House and ICPCN Board Member, shared the Hummingbird House experience of developing a children’s hospice service in Brisbane, Australia.
Individuals from services across China then went on to describe the services they were providing. These included Chen Xingjia,Liu Zhengchen New Sunshine Charity Foundation, Fang Yongjun, Children’s Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Chen Jinzhi, Shanghai Children’s Medical Centre, Tan Lihong, Hunan Provincial Children’s Hospital, Fu Lili, Children’s Hospital affiliated to Fudan University and Dr Weng Yuxi u, Taiwan Social Working Department. Li Zhang spoke movingly of their commitment and the challenges to deliver support services for families from the Children’s Hospital affiliated to Suzhou University. Lynda Gould, CEO of Butterfly Children’s Hospice and Board Member of ICPCN, also shared her experiences of developing a children’s hospice in China, the need and motivation for the development of children’s palliative care in Changsha, China.
Participants were active in their discussions around the presentations, keen to learn what is happening in children’s palliative care in China and to share lessons learnt from each other. The need for support for carers such as social workers and nurses was acknowledged, with questions posed from a wide range of disciplines and provinces.
It was great to have a team from Brisbane, Australia, at the symposium, sharing their experience of developing and implementing children’s palliative care in different settings. Dr Anthony Herbert discussed the hospital model of children’s palliative care at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, identifying the components and roles of a hospital based palliative care programme, Helen Wilson then went on to discuss the role of Social Work in children’s palliative care, building on some of the discussion from the previous day. Maggie Leung looked at the role of therapies and psycho-social care, and finally Kelly Oldham discussed the children’s hospice model and the role of nurses within the hospice. The talks were inspirational and left the participants wondering how best they can implement children’s palliative care within their settings in China.