The General Assembly approved a new Declaration aimed at improving the rights of children throughout the world to health care. The new initiative, entitled the Declaration of Ottawa, builds on the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among other rights, it states that:
- parents whose children are admitted to hospital should, wherever possible, be provided with appropriate accommodation in or near the hospital at minimal or no cost. In addition parents should be allowed time off work without prejudice to their continued employment;
- parents, guardians or children of sufficient maturity should be free to change their physician or to seek a second opinion;
- the wishes of children should be taken into account in decisions involving their care;
- a competent child patient, their parents or guardians should be entitled to withhold consent to any procedure or therapy;
- the child patient is entitled to be fully informed about their medical condition.
Dr James Appleyard, chairman of the WMA’s medical ethics committee, said: “This Declaration provides an international bench mark for children’s health care and a bench mark that many governments fail to reach. This bench mark will empower national medical associations throughout the world to persuade their governments to value their children and improve the health of the world’s children.
“The rights of children to health care need to be at the centre of our health policies and investment in the health care of children is the most cost effective measure for any government to take.”