Children in hospitals

WHO/Malin Bring

Severely ill children need skilled hospital care, but do not get it in some countries with few resources. WHO has developed a toolkit to help professionals and policy-makers improve care. WHO/Europe advises and supports countries in reforming their health systems and changing service providers’ skills and attitudes.

In most parts of Europe, severely ill children have good access to hospitals, with established referral systems and skilled and committed nurses and doctors. Nevertheless, in some of the newly independent states, children remain in hospital and away from their families too long, receive excessive treatment with ineffective drugs and inappropriate therapies, and get inadequate support or monitoring.

The reasons why include:

  • a lack of evidence-based clinical guidelines;
  • links between hospitals’ reimbursement from health insurance schemes or government budgets and length of stay or number of therapies, regardless of need;
  • health regulations that do not always support a rational approach in laboratory services and testing;
  • little incentive for hospitals to comply with standards of good practice;
  • aggressive marketing from pharmaceutical companies;
  • low salaries and little information for staff;
  • financial interests of physicians.