The best interests of the child

This Article and guiding principle requires that all public and private organisations have to make sure that the best interests of the child is a primary concern when they are taking action that might affect them. This requirement obviously applies to health workers and health services. For example, a decision to treat a child must always be made in his or her best interest and not just to contribute to research findings or to provide a doctor with more experience.

Decisions about the management of children’s hospital wards must be made in the best interests of the child, not for the convenience or efficiency of the staff. This does not mean that the best interests of children is the only consideration: other people’s interests must also be taken into account. However, health authorities and professionals must always consider the potential impact of their actions on children and seek to ensure that children’s interests are given serious attention.

In order to try to decide what is in a child’s best interests in any given situation, it is helpful to think about what rights are involved and how best to protect them. For example, before giving an injection to a child who is capable of understanding, it will be in her or his best interests to provide them with information about what is going to happen, and why the injection is needed. You can also ask them if there is anything you can do to make them feel less anxious and tense. In other words, respecting a child’s right to information and to be heard will be in their best interests.

The right to non-discrimination

The right to life and optimum development