Policy & Advocacy

Our approach

What we do

ECHO works with our members, partner organisations, European Union Commission staff, and EU member state representatives to providing 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

  • Promoting the rights of children and young people in hospital
  • Supporting patients with rare diseases
  • Increasing research funding for children
  • Making children a priority in the Horizon Europe Cancer Mission
  • Ensuring  digital health systems include children’s hospitals               

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 quality.

November 2019 marks 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 has issued a joint declaration calling for early and sustained investment in child health. 

Joint Statement on Child Rights 

The COVID-19 panemic directly and indirectly affected child health. ECHO published a comment in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health on the rights of children in hospital during COVID-19 calling for policy makers and health systems to put child health at the centre of pandemic planning.   

ECHO Lancet Comment 

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  

Supporting patients with rare diseases - European Reference Networks (ERNs)

Children’s hospitals are leaders in caring for patients with rare diseases and working with our partners to ensure that the ERNs are sustainable, functional, and best meet the needs of paediatric patients. The ECHO Secretariat is helping to do this by taking a leadership role in involving hospital managers and in co-coordinating their data sharing and management initiative.

Increasing research funding for children – Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is an opportunity to ensure that more research funding is available to all researchers, and not limited to specific populations, as sometimes happened in the past. Horizon Europe is also a chance to make sure that research on diseases specific to children are adequately funded. ECHO is working to be sure that the health needs of children and young people are prioritised in the next budget cycle.

Read our input at the IMI Stakeholder Forum 2020 that focused on childhood cancer and the future Horizon Europe Partnship for Innovative Health.

ECHO Input IMI Stakeholder Forum

Prioritising childhood cancer in the Horizon Europe Cancer Mission and Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death amongst children and young people in Europe, and children’s hospitals are the main care providers for these patients and their families. Paediatric cancer is als biologically distinct from adult cancer and children and young people have distinct needs from adult cancer patients. Only by focusing on the unique needs of the paediatric population will we succeed in beating childhood cancer. 

In 2020 the European Commission announced Europe's Beating Cancer Plan and sought public input. ECHO's goal is to ensure the needs of children, young people, and their families are addressed in the Plan. Read ECHO's response below:

 Resposne to Cancer Plan Roadmap    

 Resposne to Cancer Plan Public Consultation  

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 improving health outcomes. For this reason, it is essential that there is adequate investment in pan-European health information and technology systems to connect these hospitals.