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WAR IN EUROPE

The children of Ukraine are our children

The Kharkiv, Ukraine children’s palliative care centre, the Hippocratic Centre. Its director is Dr Roman Mariybyan. (Photo: Supplied)

As a global children’s palliative care movement, we are determined to stand alongside our Ukrainian friends to support the present programmes and to be there in the future to help them rebuild.

Yesterday I cried to see my friends and colleagues who provide outstanding, compassionate children’s palliative care in Kharkiv, Ukraine, preparing for war. 

Acknowledging the reality of invasion, they calmly planned for the unexpected, set up a bomb shelter in the basement of their beautiful centre and ensured all the staff received training in dealing with the impact of conflict and were prepared to do what they had to, to keep the children alive and safe.

ukraine child palliative care
Since 2014, the Kharkiv centre has been receiving and caring for children from the Ukraine separatist war zone — its fight for legal recognition took many years. (Photo: Supplied)

Today the world awoke to the reality of a Russian invasion, multiple attacks and loss of life. Sadly, my friends’ and colleagues’ preparation was timely. 

We all know this war was unprovoked and illegal; and that those most vulnerable suffer the most in times of conflict. But a war that deliberately ignores the rights of children, especially those with serious illnesses and disabilities, must receive our strong response. 

Since 2014 the centre has been receiving and caring for children from the war zone and fought for many years for legal recognition of this beautiful palliative care centre, where children are cared for during their short lives with great skill and even greater compassion. 

The director and his staff have placed their lives in danger by staying when they could have left. I have had the privilege of visiting Ukraine to teach and support the development of children’s palliative care since 2015 and have seen how this has developed from a single children’s hospice run by the visionary  “Mother” of children’s palliative care in Ukraine, Ivano-Frankivsk, to a countrywide network of care. Help was generously given by neighbouring-country experts including from Poland, Latvia, Russia and Belarus. 

As a global children’s palliative care movement we are determined to stand alongside our Ukrainian friends to support the present programmes and to be there in the future to help them rebuild. “Every child is my child” is an African proverb. The children of Ukraine are our children. DM/MC

Joan Marston is a children’s palliative care nurse consultant, vice-chair of PatchSA, and the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation Global, Honorary Consultant to the Department of Palliative Care at the International Medical University of Kharkiv.

 

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