Children and youth interact with the health system in a variety of ways, such as immunizations from public health nurses, regular check-ups with doctors and dentists, appointments with specialists, treatment in the Emergency Room or hospital stays. Children are usually with their parents when they access these health services, whereas teens may access them independently.
To support and encourage children, youth and their families to access health services in their communities it is important that these services are child and youth friendly. Health services that are child and youth friendly consider aspects such as: the availability of services, attitudes of staff, confidentiality and the physical environment. The accessibility of health services for children and youth is a key issue for child and youth friendly communities and may vary considerably between major urban centres and smaller rural communities. Individuals living in smaller rural communities may have to drive a great distance to a hospital or clinic that serves their needs.
Photo by deadstar2.1/cc/flickr
UNCRC and HEALTH SERVICES
Article 3 is about what is best for children
Adults should always make a decision by considering what is in the best interest of the child.
Article 12 is about the views of the child
Children and young people have a right to participate in all matters affecting them, and those views should be given due weight “in accordance with the age and maturity of the child”.
Article 16 protects an individual’s privacy and reputation
Children and young people have a right to privacy, protecting them from attacks against their way of life, their good name and that of their families and their home.
Articles 6, 23, & 24 promote healthy development
Children and youth have the right to life. Children and youth who have a disability of any kind have the right to special care and education they need to develop and lead a full life. Children and youth have a right to the best health possible and to medical care and to information that will help them to stay well.
Articles 19, 33 & 39 protect children from harm
Children and youth have the right to be protected from being hurt or badly treated. Children and youth have the right to be protected from dangerous drugs. Children and youth have the right to help if they have been hurt, neglected, or badly treated.
“Children and youth are our most precious resource. They are the life and future of our society. Every child deserves to be loved, nurtured and given the care they need to grow up healthy in all ways: emotionally, spiritually and physically. Every child/youth will come in contact with a health care provider.
It is our responsibility to show compassion in our care of the child and youth and also to advocate for services in our communities that support them. This may mean going outside of what is traditionally thought of as health care. We are in a unique position to see what children and youth really need to be as healthy as they can possibly be.”
~Barbara Fitzgerald M.D. FRCP(C) Clinical Associate Professor, UBC, Developmental Pediatrician