Background

As of 2021, our country partner in Greece is Merimna (which in Greek means ‘Care’) - the only organisation in Greece that provides pediatric palliative care home services to children and adolescents who live a life-threatening illness. The organisation was founded in 1995 by an interdisciplinary team of nine health professionals and university professors with extensive experience in the field.

The services Merimna provides are free of charge. The organisations financial resources rely solely on donations from individuals, companies and foundations, as there is no governmental reimbursement or financial support of any kind. Unfortunately, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial support has drastically decreased.

Despite the organisations best efforts, due to the limited number of scientific staff available to Merimna, they can only provide services to a small amount of people in need. Given the approximately 500 deaths of children from serious illnesses per year in Greece, Merimna is able to provide services for 29 children annually. A high percentage of children suffering from serious health problems end up in hospitals, where they are unable to receive adequate palliative care due to a lack of expertise. This fact has lead in recent years to an increase of requests from the paediatric clinics of the hospitals to Merimna for training and advice for health care professionals.

Merimna’s Services

  1. The Paediatric Palliative Home Care Service in Athens offers medical, nursing and psychosocial care to children and teens that are living with a life-threatening illness at home as well as to their family members (parents, siblings, grand-parents). This service operates 24/7, 365 days per year. Since the inception of this service in 2010, over 132 children and their families have been cared for. Requests for Palliative Home Care are increasing every year.
  2. The Childhood Bereavement Counselling Centre in Athens and in Thessaloniki to which bereaved children, parents and significant others are being supported through individual, family or group grief counselling. The centres also provide telephone services during work hours for those who do not have access to the bereavement counselling centres.
  3. Specialised training for health care professionals and educators in order to effectively support children, families and school communities who are experiencing a significant loss.
  4. Raising awareness of the Greek society regarding topics of paediatric palliative care and bereavement support. In 26 Years of Service, Merimna has:

- Provided services to over 50.000 children, teens & families

- Organized 6 national conferences, 350 workshops and seminars and over 1.000 lectures

- Trained 5.000 educators and 1.000 health professionals

- Implemented psychosocial interventions in schools and associated communities after catastrophic or traumatic events

Merimna is currently looking for funding to support its existing Paediatric Palliative Home Care service and expand it with the establishment of a Palliative Day Care Centre for Children and Adolescents in Athens and a Capacity Building Program for families and caregivers who support children with life-threatening illness.

We look forward to supporting Merimna and will provide further details as to the projects we are assisting with in due course.