Advocating for Children and Young People

The issue

Policy makers and health system administrators face competing demands and a seemingly new crisis every day. With a smaller population and no voice at the ballot box, the needs of children and young people can sometimes be lost in the clamour.

What we do

ECHO works with our members, partner organisations, and European Union Commission staff, to raise the needs of the children and young people we care for and help find solutions. We provide insight, evidence, and leadership on issues affecting children in hospital. We take an intersectional approach to our advocacy, looking for ways to improve health while also addressing other policy priorities like creating more sustainable societies.

Advocacy priorities

  • Advancing sustainable and green hospitals 
  • Promoting the rights of children and young people in hospital
  • Raising the profile of children and young people with complex and rare diseases
  • Ensuring  health data sharing platforms prioritize and include children’s hospitals        

Advancing sustainable hospitals and healthcare systems

The climate crisis will determine the lifelong health of today’s children. ECHO is committed to ensuring children's hospitals are part of the solution in addressing the climate crisis and ensuring all children have the healthiest possible start in life.  

On World Environment Day 2020, together with Meyer Children’s Hospital and Health Care Without Harm Europe, ECHO released the Children's Hospitals Green Promise, charting the course for sustainable children’s hospitals of the future. Read the full promise here:

Green Promise 

Following up on our promise we issued 'A call to action: children's hospitals, child health and the climate crisis' in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health on the eve of the Pre-COP26 Youth Event: “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition.”  Read the comment here:

A call to action on the climate crisis

ECHO is an ongoing partner of Ride for Their Lives, a non-profit that works with paediatricians around the world to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on child health and support health care professionals in taking action to address it.

Promoting the rights of children and young people in hospital

ECHO is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of children in hospital. A rights-based approach to care centres the needs of patients and their families and can help improve the quality of care they recieve.

The COVID-19 pandemic directly and indirectly affected child health. ECHO called for the rights of children in hospital to be centred in pandemic planning in our comment in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

ECHO Lancet Comment on Rights of Children in Hospital

November 2019 marked 30 years since the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. To celebrate this milestone and recommit to continuing to protect and promote the rights of children and young people ECHO, together with organisations representing children’s hospitals in Australasia, Canada, and the United States issued a joint declaration calling for early and sustained investment in child health. 

Joint Statement on Child Rights 

To support hospitals on their journeys to incorporating a rights-based approach to care, ECHO has issued the ECHO Toolkit: Supporting Rights of Children in Hospital. This toolkit is an evidence-based approach to the implementation and evaluation of a rights-based approach to caring for children and young people in hospital.


 ECHO Child Rights Toolkit  

Raising the profile of children and young people with complex and rare diseases

ECHO is the only organisation representing children's hospitals in Europe. To ensure the needs of children and young people are heard, we work at multiple levels including participating in workshops and networks hosted by the European Commission, providing input on proposed regulations such as the Revision of the EU legislation on medicines for children and rare diseases, or the creation of the European Health Emergency Response Authority, or working directly with Commission staff on issues around rare diseases and the European Reference Networks (ERNs).

ECHO leadership played a lead role in coordinating with the Commission, Ukrainian children's hospitals and ECHO members to connect people with rare diseases fleeing the war in Ukraine connect with care providers.

Ensuring digital health systems include children’s hospitals

Many countries have only one or two tertiary care children’s hospitals, making cross-border comparison essential to conducting research needed to improve health outcomes. Ongoing investment in projects such as the European Digital Health Data Space needs to address the unique needs of children's hospitals. ECHO participate in the AlliancE for the Digitalisation of HosPitAls MediCation ManagemenT Pathways (EPACT) run by the European Health Management Association and works with our members on research to support data sharing solutions.