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Why Children's Pain Matters

The first Global Day Against Pain on October 11,2004,focused attention on the worldwide undertreatment of acute and chronic pain.It also called for pain control to be recognized as a major public health issue and human right (Bond and Breivik 2004;Brennan and Cousins 2004).This year,the IASP Global Day Against Pain in Children on October 17,2005 will focus upon children s pain. There is an urgent need to improve children s pain treatment,both for humanitarian and ethical reasons and because pain affects not only children s health but potentially may contribute to their disability and suffering later in life (Walco et al.2003;Franck 2002).

The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child recognizes that children are a vulnerable segment of the population,and are entitled to special consideration in all respects,including health care.Despite this recognition, inadequate prevention and relief of children s pain is still widespread.This failure reflects shortcomings in recognizing children s ability to perceive,respond to, and be harmed by pain;exaggerated fears of the side effects of analgesics and anesthetics in children;and lack of resources to provide training for clinicians and treatments for children.

This issue of Pain:Clinical Updates discusses the imperative for the treatment of pain in childhood and provides a summary of some accessible guidelines and resources.It draws upon a Position Statement (www.iasp-pain.org/GlobalDay-2005.htm)prepared by the Council of the IASP Special Interest Group (SIG)for Pain in Childhood,and is intended to support a year-long effort by the IASP and the SIG to improve the global standard of children s pain management.Although a great deal is now known about the physiology and management of children s pain (McGrath 2005),many barriers hinder the application of that knowledge to clinical care.Research is urgently needed to clarify the many aspects of children s pain and its management that remain poorly understood.

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