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Country, Date of election

Czech Republic 2001



Marketa Kralovcova promotes greater parental and patient involvement in the treatment of chronically and terminally ill children in the Czech Republic, manifested in the country’s first children’s hospice.


The non-symmetrical relationship between individuals and institutions in the post-socialist Czech society, especially in healthcare. As a consequence of such a relationship, on the one hand, parents of ill children feel subordinate to healthcare institutions and do not act as active citizens. On the other hand, healthcare professionals working with ill children act paternalistically and do not accept their parents as equal partners in the process of curing children. Another problem is insufficient public awareness of needs that hospitalized, seriously ill and terminally ill children and their families have. This fact is manifested in the tangible and social environment of today’s healthcare institutions.


Markéta’s Klíček foundation has been contributing to the change in the healthcare system and public attitude through the diligent pursuit and promotion of important topics which are often neglected. Klíček made possible the adoption and implementation of the “Charter of Children in Hospital” in the Czech Republic, co-created educational materials for healthcare staff, brought to the Czech Republic key professional literature on working with terminally ill children. Klíček also initiated a certified educational course for play specialists at hospitals; its graduates today are active all across the country, and Klíček is working on embedding this role into the healthcare system country-wide. For more than 20 years, Klíček has run a self-help affordable accommodation facility for parents of children hospitalized at Prague Motol Faculty Hospital. In 2004 Klíček opened the doors of its children hospice, the first of its kind in the Czech Republic. All in all, more than 10.000 Czech families have benefited from Klíček’s direct help since it started its operations in 1991.


The core innovation lies in making institutional care more humane again: first of all, by levelling the relationships between caregiver and caretaker, strengthening parents’ competences and rights awareness, emphasis on solidarity and mutual help, respect to individual and unique personal stories of patients, creating space allowing for free and authentic experience of loss, joy and hope. By starting such discussionss, providing concrete measures of practical support (affordable accommodation for parents at hospitals, lobbying for patients’ rights, children’s hospice) and supporting new roles (such as play assistant and doula), Marketa is preparing the ground for a new approach towards ill children.


A more conscious, responsible, reflective and engaged society in the Czech Republic. Full implementation of a “family-centered care” principle in the Czech healthcare system, “Charter of Children in hospitals” adopted in the everyday routine of all hospitals. Establishment of “play specialist” profession (approached in a comprehensive way) country-wide. Finalizing the complex of children’s hospice and launching it in its full capacity.


Markéta’s first personal contact with seriously and terminally ill children took place in 1988, at which time she was shocked by the environment in which children had to undergo treatment: having no family support and being far away from home. The Velvet revolution of 1989 provided Markéta and her husband with opportunities to identify and implement solutions needed in children’s hospital care. They first considered it an accident but later came to realize that it was Divine Will which helped them find the way to realize their potential in a socially beneficial way.



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